Currently, cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of deaths worldwide. Therefore, it is extremely important to take some immediate steps to improve heart health and reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Many of us have seen people suffering from cardiovascular disease, so are aware of how it diminishes the quality of life of the sufferer.
The health related quality of life of the sufferer is significantly reduced. There are various factors that could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high glucose level in the blood.
According to one of the studies, one in every five cases of cardiovascular diseases is due to physical inactivity.
Chances are, you already know that lack of physical activity is not good for you, especially for your heart. Research suggests that people who are inactive are twice more likely to suffer from heart disease as compared to those who do regular physical activity.
What is a cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease refers to the diseases that affect the heart and there are many different types of cardiovascular diseases. The most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease, affecting millions of people across the world.
Coronary heart disease is a disease which occurs due to the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are those arteries in the body that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart muscles. Plaque is a mixture of fat, calcium, and many other substances that are found in the blood, which gets build up inside the arteries for many years.\
Over time, this could lead to the narrowing and hardening of the coronary arteries, resulting in reduced flow of blood to the heart muscles. Partial blockage of coronary arteries reduces the flow of blood to the heart muscles and causes angina. But many times the plaque ruptures and causes the formation of a clot that blocks the flow of blood. When coronary arteries are blocked, the heart attack occurs.
Regular physical activity is considered to be an effective way to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease as physical activity has an impact on almost all the factors that are associated with cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol level, and high glucose level are the most common causes of cardiovascular disease, and physical activity can improve all these conditions and prevents heart disease.
- High blood pressure - Blood pressure is defined as a flow of blood against the walls of the arteries and when this pressure becomes higher than normal, it is known as high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure generally does not show any symptoms until it starts to affect the heart and this is why it is often known as a silent killer.
High blood pressure affects the heart making it difficult for it to pump properly. Physical activity works by lowering the blood pressure and studies suggest that activities like aerobic can affect both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- High cholesterol level - Cholesterol is a fat like substance that could lead to the buildup of plaque inside the arteries, resulting in coronary heart disease. Cholesterol is an important fat in the body. It is categorized into two - Good cholesterol (also known as high density lipoprotein) and Bad cholesterol (also known as low density lipoprotein). Good cholesterol helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, whereas bad cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
Physical activity works by increasing the level of high density lipoprotein in the blood and decreasing the level of low density lipoprotein in the body, which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and helps to keep the heart healthy.
- High glucose level - High blood glucose level is a hallmark trait of diabetes mellitus. It is a metabolic disorder which occurs due to lack of insulin, the inability of the body to use insulin effectively, or both. The uncontrolled glucose level in the blood is one of the major risk factors for various health problems.
Physical activity works by improving the efficiency of insulin in the body. Insulin is the primary hormone that regulates the glucose level in the blood. Regular exercise improves the sensitivity of insulin to cells, reducing glucose level. Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes and it also reduces the risk of developing diabetes in non-diabetic patients.
Not only these three, physical activity has many other benefits that directly or indirectly affect heart health such as:
- It improves sleep quality.
- It reduces stress
- It boosts energy levels
- It improves the strength
- It helps in weight management
Being overweight or obese is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Obesity is a disease which is defined as a condition in which the excess fat gets accumulated in the body. The accumulation of fat affects the heart in several ways, making it difficult for the heart to pump properly. Sometimes, it can also lead to the buildup of plaque which leads to coronary heart disease. The fat content in the body depends on calorie intake and energy expenditure. Regular physical activity works by increasing the total energy expenditure in the body.
Doing exercise or physical activity does not necessarily means going to the gym or purchasing equipment for home. Physical activity can be done in some simple ways such as:
- Doing walking or running every day.
- Use the stairs whenever possible.
- Prefer walking.
- Do some yoga.