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:
- Cross-country skiing
- Jumping rope
- Running or jogging
- Team sports, such as basketball and soccer
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. There are many lower-intensity activities that 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.