How Exercise Protects Your Heart

heart-healthy exerciseResearch shows that exercise promotes heart health. Some of the benefits of exercise include reducing the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, as well as reducing risk factors for related diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. How does exercise promote such positive changes?

Heart.

Regular exercise strengthens muscles. This is true not only of your quads, calves, and biceps, but also your heart, which is a muscle. A strong heart can pump the same amount of blood around your body with less energy. In addition, a strong heart can stay healthier for longer, reducing the risk of weakening the muscle, having a heart attack or developing heart disease.

Blood vessels.

Regular exercise helps keep the lining of the blood vessels flexible and elastic, even as you age. Flexible blood vessels help promote proper blood flow and maintain healthy blood pressure. In addition, regular exercise helps prevent the buildup of plaque along the blood vessel walls, reducing the risk for developing clogged arteries, peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke.

Brain.

Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. When the brain receives more oxygen and nutrients, it can function better. This is one reason why exercising can improve focus and concentration. Exercise also promotes healthy carotid arteries and blood vessels in the brain, reducing the risk of stroke.

Body Weight.

Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight by burning calories. It can also boost your metabolism by restoring or building muscle mass. This becomes especially important as we age, because, with aging, muscle mass is lost more easily and is harder to build up.

Smoking.

Exercise may help you quit smoking by reducing your desire to smoke.

These are some of the most important benefits of exercise. American Heart Month is the perfect time to get started on a regular physical activity regimen. Remember—any type of moving is helpful!

Concerned? Ask your doctor any questions you may have about exercising and your specific medical condition.

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