Fight Heart Disease With Physical Activity

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Fortunately, you can take steps to help protect your heart—and one of the most important is exercise.

Health Monitor Staff

We all know exercise is good for us, but why is it so good for fighting heart disease, like acute coronary syndrome (ACS)? Read on for a list of benefits you'll receive from some physical activity.

  • Lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure stays high, over time it can lead to coronary artery disease or heart failure.
  • Lower triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. High triglycerides increase your risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Higher HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. Research shows that HDL can protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
  • Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. Exercise improves your body's ability to manage blood sugar. Having diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease.
  • Weight loss. Excess weight raises your blood pressure, as well as your LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also can make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

A number of common activities and exercises can help your heart work more efficiently and reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are some examples:

  • Aerobics
  • Biking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Jumping rope
  • Rowing
  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming
  • Team sports, such as basketball and soccer
  • Tennis

If starting up a new workout routine seems overwhelming or a little scary, keep in mind that exercise doesn't have to be rigorous to help protect your heart. Many lower-intensity activities have long-term health benefits, including brisk walking, dancing, yard work and climbing stairs.

Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Remember, safety comes first. If you're middle-aged or older, it's important to consult your doctor before you begin any exercise program especially if you already have a heart condition.

October 2010