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6 ways exercise helps your heart stay healthy

30 minutes of regular exercise is all you need to keep your heart fit. Here's why.

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Updated : February 24, 2015 3:38 PM IST

heart exercise

We all know regular exercise is good for maintaining overall health, but it holds much more significance when it comes to heart health. The effect of exercise on heart is clearly seen in individuals who have a sedentary lifestyle. They have double the risk of dying from heart disease. This is also true for people who have other risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

'Regular exercise is an important approach to lowering the risk of heart disease because it simultaneously affects various risk factors of heart disease. Exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week can help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol, and even lower your blood pressure by as many as five to seven points. The intensity of exercise can vary from light to moderate. However, for it to have a positive impact on heart health, the intensity should be vigorous enough to raise the heart rate by about 25% of basal rate,' says Dr Nikhil Kumar, director, Cardiology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute. He explains how exactly exercise improves heart health.

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It enhances heart muscle function: Exercise improves blood and oxygen supply to the heart, helping it function more efficiently. This, in turn, helps the heart have an improved ability to pump blood throughout the body.

It improves heart function under stress: When you exercise, your heart rate increases. So you breathe rapidly to meet the oxygen requirement of your body. With an improved heart muscle function, the oxygen supply to various organs in the body including the heart muscle also improves. This allows the heart to work better under stressful situations.

It improves circulation: Along with improving blood circulation throughout the body, physical activity also allows better blood flow through small blood vessels in the heart. These blood vessels have a higher risk of getting clogged and cause a heart attack. Exercise helps your body make more branches and connections between these blood vessels, so there are other routes for your blood to travel if the usual path is blocked by narrow arteries or fatty deposits.

It reduces cholesterol levels: High blood cholesterol level is one of the major risk factors for the development of heart disease. Exercise increases levels of HDL cholesterol, the 'good' cholesterol, which lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or 'bad' cholesterol out of the system.

It lowers the risk of obesity: Sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor diet is one of the main reasons more and more people are suffering from obesity and heart disease. And, exercise is one of the best natural ways to reduce weight, cutting down the risk of heart disease.

It reduces blood pressure: Exercise helps smoothen the circulation of blood throughout the body by making your heart more efficient. So, neither does the heart have to work hard to pump blood, nor will it increase your blood pressure (the force exerted by theblood on the walls of the arteries). This prevents hypertension, another risk factor for heart disease.

Image source: Getty images

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