Exercise and Your Heart

You’ve probably heard that it’s important to exercise to keep your heart healthy.  But you may not know how it actually does this important job.  Sometimes knowing the actual mechanism that helps your heart will help motivate you to make the changes you need for a healthier heart.

Directly, exercise actually helps your heart to stay in shape.  It increases the amount of blood it can pump with a single beat.  It also helps to physically strengthen the muscle that makes up your heart – cardiac muscle.  Improving your heart health can improve the circulation all over your body.  That means that your body is getting oxygen and nutrients delivered to it more efficiently.

 Exercise is also one of the only ways that you can increase your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. This is the good cholesterol that actually helps to reduce the amount of plaque on your blood vessels.  Having high HDL levels actually helps you to keep your blood vessels from becoming blocked.

If you’re feeling stressed or tense, exercise can also leave you feeling relaxed.  This indirectly helps your heart to stay healthy.  Stress and anxiety can take their toll on your heart by increasing blood pressure and even affecting your diet. By exercising and reducing your physical tension, you can make your heart breathe a sigh of relief as well.

Exercise also helps to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.  The better you sleep, the more likely you are to have normal blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

This is often the result of hormones that are regulated by sleep patterns.  If you have a hard time falling asleep or you toss and turn, exercise may help you to sleep more soundly and thereby improve your heart health.

By exercising you can also maintain a healthy weight and waistline. Being overweight or obese or having a high ratio of your waist to hips can make you at increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.  By moving your body and increasing the energy it uses, you can improve your body composition and put less stress on your heart.

When it comes to exercise, many people feel they have to go all or nothing.  But exercise doesn’t need to consist of hours of torture at the gym. Even taking a daily walk for 30 minutes can tremendously improve the health of your heart and the rest of your body.  If you want to improve your heart health, just step outside and put one foot in front of the other.