Exercise has numerous benefits including weight management, mood stabilizer, improved performance, and of course heart and circulation benefits. Exercise is beneficial to almost everyone but research specifically shows that those who have a strong history of heart disease in their family should exercise regularly as their best defense against getting heart disease themselves.
In addition to preventing heart disease, it can prevent symptoms worsening if a person currently has heart disease or high risks such as hypertension or high cholesterol.
It is important to know that a strong family history of the disease is not a death sentence, it just means that obtaining a healthy lifestyle is more important than for those who do not have family history risk. Being consistent with a healthy lifestyle, eliminating heart disease risk factors from your daily lifestyle, such as smoking, eating fried foods, being sedentary, and/or chronic sleep deprivation.
Some research suggests that family history and genetics only influence the fate of your health by 10%. This is encouraging to those who do have a family history with several health risk factors.
A healthy lifestyle, balanced with a nutritious diet, daily activity or exercise and stress and inflammation reducing practices, such as meditation can override and defend you against your family history risk factors for heart disease.
How Much Exercise Is Recommended?
Regular exercise of 30 to 60 minutes most days per week consisting of both cardiovascular and strength training can help prevent heart disease in several different ways including:
Exercise reduces high blood pressure which in turn also lowers overall strain on the heart muscle itself
Exercise increases HDL cholesterol also known as the healthy cholesterol. This cholesterol protects the heart and cleans up the fat from the arteries.
Exercise decreases LDL cholesterol also known as lousy cholesterol this cholesterol is responsible for accumulating fat within the arteries that can contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
The increased heart rate from exercise naturally improves overall circulation, which can reduce the occurrence of blood clots, which reduces risk for stroke.
Exercise also reduces overall body fat, while promoting weight loss and building lean muscle mass. All of these benefits can improve overall quality of life, confidence and lower stress levels.
The stress reducing benefits of exercise are often overlooked but should not be, they are just as important as the physiological benefits listed above. The natural endorphin rush reduces stress, anxiety and inflammation, while improving mood and overall happiness.
The Best Exercise For The Heart
Experts recommend aerobic exercise also known as cardiovascular exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, dancing or running as the best form of exercise for your heart. I also recommend circuit training styles of exercise this yields both the cardiovascular benefits and protection from heart disease and the strength training benefits which build lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is important to prevent osteoporosis and improves imbalances that can cause chronic aches and pains typically in the back, hips, neck and shoulders.
Circuit training is defined as back-to-back exercises with weights, or body weight with minimal rest to keep the heart beating while also working your muscles specifically.
In addition to aerobic and strength training exercises I highly recommend a mind body form of exercise such as Pilates or yoga. The neurological benefits of this modality of fitness are endless, including stress reduction, improved flexibility and less chronic aches and pains.
What Risks Are Associated with Regular Exercise?
The average person can take on moderate intensity regular exercise. Of course there are special populations who have to consult with their doctor before starting any exercise program, these individuals include:
Anyone on medications for heart disease or with a history of heart attack or heart surgery should get a cardiac exercise regimen.
Those with chest pains or those who have a hard time catching their breath should be cautious about their exercise program and consult with a qualified health professional. This population should consult with their doctor and adopt a very mild exercise program such as starting out walking 3 to 5 minutes at a time.
Those who suffer with high blood pressure should avoid intense exercise if their blood pressure is not under control and they should also build up to a moderate regimen slowly.
Those who have heart issues should avoid Exercise programs that involve sitting and standing up and overhead weight training.
Additional Lifestyle Strategies to Prevent or Reduce Risk for Heart Disease
Consume at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, preferably a ratio of 3:1 vegetables: fruit.
Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of all-natural alkaline hydroxide water daily to reduce inflammation and improve muscle recovery.
Aim to sleep 7-9 hours per night. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics with blue lights an hour prior to bedtime.
Incorporate healthy fats in your daily nutrition, including cold-water fish, fish oil supplementation, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
A healthy lifestyle has a greater influence over your fate of heart disease then a strong family history. Adopt a healthy exercise program for 30-60 minutes most days of the week, eat a healthy unprocessed whole foods diet, hydrate with half your body weight in ounces of alkaline hydroxide water per day, sleep 7-9 hours per night, and practice stress reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, etc.
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