Exercise: The best way to protect your cardiovascular system

Heart disease is the number one killer in Malaysia.

Studies show that the number of deaths caused by heart disease and stroke have increased over the years as more individuals suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

It was also revealed that cardiovascular diseases claim almost twice as many lives as cancer, and seem to account for a very high percentage of all certified deaths every year.

Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do to protect your cardiovascular system. A sedentary lifestyle, on the contrary, can double your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, it is reported that cardiovascular risk due to a sedentary lifestyle is equal to that posed by high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Pamilia Lourdunathan, health coach of Naluri says, “Invest in more time for your heart and your heart will not only thank you for it but will invest in more time for you.”

Exercise then is undoubtedly the necessary step you should take for a better heart and a longer life.

How exercise protects your cardiovascular system

Exercise or physical activity that increases the heart rate and blood flow in the body helps release endorphins. This in turn raises your overall energy levels.

In terms of blood pressure, exercise can help lower blood pressure in mild to moderate hypertensive individuals and help maintain normal blood pressure in normotensive individuals.

Exercise combined with a healthy diet can also help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

Bad cholesterol can cause blood vessels to become hardened and clogged. It was found that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intense aerobic activity three to four times per week helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Regular exercise is also reported to result in a small rise in the size of the left ventricle, making it easier for the heart to supply oxygenated blood to all organs, muscles and systems of the body.

Not only does exercise strengthen your heart, it helps maintain a healthy weight.

Cardiovascular exercises, better known as “cardio” exercises, help create an energy deficit, while resistance exercises improve lean muscle mass and body composition.

This is important because excess weight, particularly in the abdominal region, can put a strain on the heart, which is why it is commonly said our “waistline is our lifeline”.

Meanwhile, higher-intensity exercise seems to have a great impact on our body’s ability to use oxygen. The more we exercise, the more our body is able to improve its respiration ability and lung absorption rate.

Exercising regularly has been shown to increase parasympathetic stimulation in our bodies. This helps slow our heart rate down during times of rest.

The outcome is a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. It also helps control over our body’s ability to return to a calm state during times of stress.

Endorphins released during exercise is a natural feel-good hormone, and helps improve your emotional well-being while decreasing stress levels.

Because continuous levels of stress can cause chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, exercise reduces your cardiovascular risk not only by physical but also emotional means.

How to get started?

Good cardiovascular exercises will fortify your heart against cardiovascular diseases. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least five days a week.

To begin your journey of exercise, follow these three steps:

Step 1: Ask yourself

What is my current state of cardiovascular health? Based on this, what would be an appropriate form of exercise for me?

Step 2: Identify the intensity of your chosen exercise

  • Low intensity exercises: Casual walks, stretching, yoga, Tai Chi, mall-walking, stair-climbing, household chores.
  • Moderate intensity exercises: Working out on an elliptical cross trainer machine, brisk walking, walking uphill, jogging, cycling, swimming.
  • High intensity exercises: Sprints, high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT), running, using the treadmill, weight training, basketball, football, tennis.

Step 3: Self-check

  • Occasionally check the rate of your heart with a heart rate monitor by using a fitness band on your wrist, a chest strap or by taking your pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying the number of beats by four.
  • To understand the intensity of exercise, it is helpful to know your maximum heart rate (MHR). This can be computed by subtracting your age from 220. For example a 36-year-old will have a MHR of about 184 beats per minute.
  • Another great indicator – if you are still able to talk or sing while exercising, you are exercising at a low intensity.
  • For moderate-intensity exercises, you can talk comfortably but cannot sing more than a few words without running out of breath.
  • During a high-intensity workout, you will not be able to say more than a few words without having to pause for breath.

How to stay motivated while exercising

Consistency can be the most challenging aspect of your exercise routine.

Because of that, follow some helpful tips like turning on your favourite music or watching your favourite TV series or YouTube videos to get your mind off the routine.

Asking your friend or a family member to join you can also be good motivation.

Alternatively, you can incorporate the practice of exercise into your daily lifestyle by opting to make small changes:

  • Park your car farther away from the entrance of a shopping mall or your workplace.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Take a five-minute breather from work to walk around your office every one to two hours.
  • Perform some simple exercises that you can carry out at your desk.
  • Every time you go to a mall, attempt to walk for at least 10 minutes without stopping.
  • Set reasonable and doable exercise goals that you can carry out even on a busy day.

According to Robert Gotlin, a specialist in sports medicine in Lenox Hill Hospital and Mt Sinai Hospital, New York City, it’s not going to work if you don’t like it.

Hence the secret is to find what you enjoy and stick with it consistently. Only then can you reap the ongoing sustainable benefits of a regular exercise routine.

This article was written in collaboration with Naluri and appeared in hellodoktor.com. It was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Source : https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2018/09/21/exercise-the-best-way-to-protect-your-cardiovascular-system/