How does exercise affect the cardiovascular system?


Quick Answer

An article by Jonathan Myers, Ph.D. that appears on the American Heart Association website lists several benefits exercise has on cardiovascular health, such as lowering body weight, reducing blood pressure and increasing the body's ability to handle insulin. These three specifically focus on cardiovascular risk factors.

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Full Answer

According to Dr. Myers, regular physical exercise increases good cholesterol, reduces bad cholesterol and boosts exercise tolerance. Besides these benefits, physiological advantages of exercising include muscular function development and optimization of the way the body uses oxygen. The latter means the body becomes more used to exercise and becomes less fatigued with such physical activity.

Dr. Myers also mentions that those with newly diagnosed heart disease who start consistently working out see a better quality of life, plus a quicker return to work and other normal activities. The death rate for heart attack patients who begin an exercise routine, according to research, drops by as much as 25 percent. The greatest benefits are seen in people who go from being sedentary to moderately active. These studies also show that fitness levels are a more accurate predictor of death than other health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Overall, Dr. Myers asserts that about 250,000 deaths each year in the United States are preventable if people become more physically active. The more active and fit a person is, the less likely he is to develop coronary heart disease.

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