Exercising and Staying Active is the best thing you can do for your Heart!

According to WHO, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally. It is something each one of us should be concerned about. One of the most important behavioural risk factors of heart problems, diseases, and stroke is physical inactivity. Fortunately, maintaining your heart health and limiting the risks of heart diseases can often be within your control with the right lifestyle choices such as regular exercising and eating a healthy diet. Are you suffering from cardiovascular problems? Are you healthy, but want to take preventive measures? 

Dr. Z. Hamdulay, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Masina Heart Institute, Mumbai tells us about the benefits of exercising regularly and how it can aid in boosting our heart health as well as our overall health and lower our risk for heart disease. 

The human body is a well-oiled machine with several interconnected parts, the health of which depends on how well you treat it through nutrition and exercise. Staying physically active is the best thing that you can do for your heart! Also, it doesn’t hurt that it will make you feel more energetic, happy, and fit. 

Physical activity has a myriad of benefits. It increases your stamina and endurance. When combined with a diet that keeps you in a calorie deficit, it will also result in weight loss. The heavier you are, the harder your heart will have to work to pump blood throughout your body. Thus, this weight reduction will actually help your heart to function more efficiently! Additionally, it will also help lower your blood pressure.

Another substantial benefit of staying physically active is that it prevents excess insulin production and increases insulin sensitivity. This will in turn increase your BMR, which helps you burn fat, reduces bad LDL cholesterol, and increases the good cholesterol in your system which is vital for heart health. 

Bad cholesterol causes arteries to become rigid and causes blockages which can lead to heart problems. On the other hand, good cholesterol, i.e. high-density lipoprotein (HDL), improves vascular health.

If you’ve never exercised before, here’s what you can do. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts! Listen to your body, know your limits and avoid pushing too hard! It is a good idea to begin with some light aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, light jogging or cycling for just 5 mins every day. In a week or more, depending on your body, the body and heart will get used to it. You can then increase it to 10-15 mins, and so on.

As you know, our heart rates increase while performing exercises to ensure that our muscles get the blood supply they require. A sudden increase may exacerbate existing heart conditions. Warming up your body before a workout and cooling down your body post-workout helps in ensuring a gradual and safe increase and decrease in heart rate. Working out under the guidance of a fitness coach can be very beneficial. Miten Says Fitness, or MSF, is a fitness coach who can guide you in improving your movement level and help you reach your optimum level of fitness and overall health safely and sustainably.

Eventually, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 3 to 5 times a week. Apart from exercising, staying physically active throughout the day is also crucial. Make sure you take 5 minutes of movement every hour and walk for at least 10,000 steps a day.

At any point, if you need to rest, you should rest! Remember, the key is to increase your endurance and stamina gradually and in a safe manner. If you feel fatigued or dehydrated during your workouts, one potential reason for this could be that your body is losing too much potassium during the workout. This can be remedied by sipping on an electrolyte drink throughout! 

Contrary to popular belief, the risk of having a cardiac-related complication during a workout is extremely low. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be aware of the warning signs that may indicate a problem. These include chest discomfort, i.e. pain or pressure in the chest, jaw, or neck, possibly radiating into the shoulder, arm, or back, unusual shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, and heart rhythm abnormalities, i.e. sensations of heartbeat skipping, palpitations, or thumping. If any of these symptoms occur, you must seek immediate medical attention.

Always remember, cardiovascular problems aren't the end of the world. You can still train your heart, improve your cardiovascular health, and build muscle, strength, and endurance! You must consult your physician before you begin exercising, to determine the intensity of exercises you can do and when it is safe to increase this intensity!