Exercise. It’s the easiest way to good health, strong heart

exercise, heart diseases
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New review paper says exercise is important to prevent and control heart diseases

Are there days when you wonder if exercising is really essential? Here’s the bad news. It is.

A new review paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, exercise and physical activity are important to prevent and control the increasing problem of heart disease and stroke.

This paper is part of an eight-part health promotion series where each paper will focus on a different risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Physical inactivity is considered one of the leading modifiable risk factors for heart disease, along with smoking status and high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week

A 2012 study found physical inactivity accounted for 9 percent of premature deaths worldwide and was shown to be the reason behind 6 percent of coronary heart disease, 7 percent of Type 2 diabetes and 10 percent of both breast and colon cancer diagnoses.

“Proper physical activity should be a lifelong commitment,” said Gerald Fletcher, MD, professor of medicine and cardiovascular disease at Mayo Clinic Florida and the review’s lead author. “The benefits of being physically active exist regardless of sex, ethnicity or age. The most active individuals have an approximate 40 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than those who do not exercise at all.”

To benefit overall heart health, current guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Aerobic forms of exercise have been shown to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure as much as 15 and 9 mmHg, respectively, among hypertensive patients, as well as reduce ischemic stroke risk and decrease LDL levels with the aid of a proper diet.

Sedentary behaviors (e.g. sitting in front of a computer or watching television) occupy almost eight hours of the average person’s day, but replacing one hour of sitting time with an equal amount of activity has been shown to effectively lower all-cause mortality.

The researchers recommend incorporating more daily lifestyle activities into the day, such as yard work, household chores, or walking/biking to and from work. The authors list stand-up desks, stand-up conference rooms with no chairs and using the stairs instead of an elevator as a few of the ways a work environment can promote physical activity for its employees.