Exercise’s Effect on the Heart – 10 Ways it Helps Your Heart

By Everett Maclachlan

Couple with bikesIt is quite common for one to hear about all of the reasons that you should exercise. You typically hear that it is good for your health or can help us to lose unwanted pounds. But, these reasons are a bit vague for those of us who are a bit more scientifically minded.

Specifically, what positive effects does exercise have on the heart? Sure, you know that working out, walking, biking, swimming, and related exercises are good for your heart. But, you may find yourself wanting more facts and details about exercise’s effect on the heart.

If you are wondering about exercise’s effect on your heart, here are 10 ways exercise helps your heart:

    1. Helps you lose weight, which means less strain on your heart muscle:Working out – especially engaging in cardiovascular exercise – burns calories. Over time, along with the proper diet, this has the effect of helping you to lose noticeable amounts of weight. And as the weight comes off, your heart has to work less hard to pump blood through your circulatory system.
    2. Strengthens your heart: Your heart is a muscle. And, by elevating your heart rate to about 60-80% of your target maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes per day, you can strengthen that muscle significantly.
    3. Reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol: Working out can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. This is the kind that, if it goes unchecked, can lead to the buildup of plaque and hardening of the arteries. In turn, these problems are the main causes of both heart attacks and stroke. Having less than 100 mg/dL of LDL in your blood is optimal.
    4. Increases in good (HDL) cholesterol: Having higher HDL cholesterol levels is also a common result of exercise. Higher HDL can provide some protection against heart disease. An HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher is desirable.
    5. Lowers your blood pressure: Blood pressure is simply the pressure that the blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attack because it can result in the restriction of oxygen flow to the heart, leading possibly to angina or a heart attack. Exercise can bring down your blood pressure to reasonable or even optimal levels.
    6. Improves sleep, which gives your heart more chance to rest: Studies have shown that working out regularly can help you get more sleep at night. Getting enough sleep is an important way to allow the entire body, including the heart, to get the renewal it needs each night.
    7. Increases your energy level: Anybody who works out regularly will tell you how good they feel when they do. This is due to an overall increase in the body’s energy levels. When you have more energy, your heart does not need to work nearly as hard.
    8. Strengthens your muscles: Lifting weights or doing other forms of resistance training greatly strengthens your muscles. With stronger muscles, you are able to perform physical tasks more easily, which puts less strain on your heart.
    9. Improves endurance: The more you exercise, the longer you will be able to endure any particular strain on the body, from extreme physical exertion to daily moving about home, office, or town. Better endurance means the less hard your heart has to work.
    10. Boosts self-image and self-esteem: The heart responds to psychological and emotional stimuli, as well as to the physical. By exercising, you will start to look and feel more fit, which leads to improved self-esteem and often to more rewarding social interactions. This, in turn, will make you feel happier – a key ingredient to a healthy heart.

Take these 10 positive exercise effects on the heart into account as you find ways to work exercise into your daily routine.

About the Author:
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