How does exercise improve heart health?
Exercise strengthens the heart and helps reduce risk factors for heart disease. Exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, helps stabilize blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure, and combats obesity. Exercise can also build up collateral circulation and increase cardiovascular endurance. Collateral circulation is the growth of small vessels that can effectively bypass clogged arteries in the event of a heart attack, minimizing damage to the cardiac muscle and allowing for a quicker recovery.
In addition to heart benefits, exercise can also improve pain from arthritis, reduce symptoms of dementia, reverse signs of osteoporosis, improve sleep, and relieve fatigue and depression, among many other benefits. A proper fitness routine can also build confidence for those who feel restricted in their activities. With increased fitness, you can climb that hill or set of stairs, you can play with your kids or grandkids, and you are at less risk of falls and injury.
Exercise also provides a social component. Many of our cardiac rehabilitation patients enjoy their time in class exercising together. Walking with a friend, cycling with your kids, hiking with your dad – all of these activities will promote overall wellness and help you enjoy life.