Cardiovascular health is an essential part of overall well-being. The heart and circulatory system must work well to ensure that oxygen and other essential nutrients are delivered to the body’s tissues. Few things can impact cardiovascular health as quickly and dramatically as exercise. Here’s what you need to know about the link between exercise and cardiovascular health.
The Heart and Exercise
The heart is a muscle that beats approximately 100,000 times per day. When you exercise, your heart rate and the force of each contraction increase. This increased activity in your heart and cardiovascular system promotes healthy blood flow, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs, including your heart.
Aerobic Exercise and Cardiovascular Health
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio or endurance training, involves activities that increase your heart rate and breathing such as cycling, swimming, or running. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health by increasing the heart’s strength and efficiency, helping to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation. Additionally, aerobic exercise can increase the good cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and reduce the bad cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Maintaining a higher level of HDL can protect against the buildup of plaque in arteries and lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Resistance Training and Cardiovascular Health
Resistance training, or weight lifting, is another type of exercise that can benefit cardiovascular health. Resistance training increases muscle mass and strength, which in turn helps to burn more calories and improves blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Resistance training can also increase blood flow to the muscles, which promotes healthy cardiovascular function.
Exercise Frequency and Duration
The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Additionally, two days of resistance training per week can provide significant benefits to cardiovascular health.
Exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Aerobic exercise, such as cycling or running, is an especially effective way to improve cardiovascular health. Resistance training, or weight lifting, can also be beneficial when performed consistently. The key to reaping the benefits of exercise is to develop a routine that suits your fitness level and lifestyle, and to stick with it over time. By making exercise a regular part of your routine, you can be sure you’re doing your heart and overall health a favor.