Free those blood vessels with a workout

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

The heart is a muscle that pumps blood efficiently round the body. As a muscle, the heart requires an active lifestyle to remain healthy.  Of the major risks factors for cardiovascular diseases, physical inactivity takes the lead. Physical inactivity has also been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2m deaths globally.
Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. It helps improve overall health and fitness as well as reduce risk for many chronic diseases. The physical activities required to keep the heart healthy are not tedious and may not require much energy to carry out. They include simple aerobic activities such as climbing stairs, walking, dancing, jogging, swimming and biking. The main goal is being active through the day as this not only improves heart and lung fitness but it also has an impact on the risk factors for heart disease.
The benefits of physical activity on the heart include:

  •  Cardiac rehabilitation

  • High blood pressure reduction: Physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight. Overweight is one of the risk factors for high blood pressure.

  •  Stress and anxiety reduction: Stress most likely triggers inflammation which is an instigator of heart disease.

  •   Heart disease prevention

  • Strengthening of the heart muscles etcetera.

These benefits are possible due to the ability of exercise to get oxygen into the system, deplete stress hormones and release mood-enhancing chemicals. One of such hormones is endorphins- known as a feel good neurotransmitter. The increase of endorphins in the body leads to enhanced immune response, a feel of euphoria and modulation of appetite.
In men, Irisin – a hormone that reprograms fat cells to burn energy instead of storing is released during exercise. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, testosterone levels may rise. Low testosterone may contribute to heart disease including blood clots and abnormal heart rhythm.

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