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World Heart Day - the Benefits of Exercise on the Heart



World Heart Day - the Benefits of Exercise on the Heart

This Thursday, 29th September marks World Heart Day, a day when we’re encouraged to stop and consider how best to look after our heart, and how best to use it to help look after humanity and nature. The organisers say that we can all reflect on how we “use heart for humanity, for nature and for you”. 

Cardiovascular disease is the term used to describe health conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels and is most often caused by atherosclerosis - a build-up of fatty deposits on the insides of the arteries which leads to an increase in the risk of blood clots. 

These fatty deposits can cause a narrowing of the blood vessels, which restricts or blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can then lead to chest pain called angina, a heart attack or heart failure. 

Our diet and lifestyle choices impact the health of our heart. Eating a diet high in saturated fat, processed foods, red and processed meats, sugar and salt can increase our risk of developing heart disease. As can smoking, stress, being ovrweight or obese, excessive alcohol consupmtion and living a sedentary lifestyle. 

Since we’re so passionate about exercise here at Own Your Goals, we thought we’d take World Heart Day as an opportunity to talk about the benefits exercise has on the heart…

  • When combined with healthy eating habits, exercise helps us maintain a healthy weight and BMI. If we’re overweight or obese, our heart is put under more stress, which increases our risk of developing heart disease.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise also means that we’re at a lower risk of developing other healthy conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, all of which can put extra strain on the heart.
  • Exercise, especially high intensity exercise, pushes up our heart rate which in turn increases our blood flow. This means that we have less chance of fatty deposits building up in the tiny blood vessels, therefore increasing our circulation, decreasing our risk of developing heart disease. 
  • Exercise helps us burn fat and build lean muscle mass, which is great for our body shape and body composition, But it isn't just the muscles in our bums, tums and thighs that benefit - the heart muscle and the smooth muscle in our blood vessels also get a strengthening workout. 
  • When we exercise, we release feel-good chemicals called endorphins that are responsible for that amazing post-workout high. These help to counteract the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone that’s released when we’re stressed. Stress is a risk factor for heart disease, so performing stress-busting exercise is a bonus for stress levels and heart health. 
  • Finally, if we exercise regularly, we’re more likely to make healthy choices elsewhere in our lives, such as our diet, alcohol consumption and deciding whether or not to smoke. All of these factors together are great for heart health, so you know what to do…! What’s your next OYG workout going to be?

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