– By Jasmine Locke, FPH Wellness Intern, Spring 2020
Many people think of exercise only when they need to lose weight. But there are many benefits of exercise, to include stress release, improved sleep and reduced risk of some cancers. Heart health is another major benefit of exercise. Consider these five heart-healthy reasons to exercise:
- Exercise lowers blood pressure. With exercise, it can potentially slow your heart rate and blood pressure during exercise and at rest! Even small reductions in blood pressure can alleviate risk of heart disease.
- Exercise can stop or slow the development of diabetes. Johns Hopkins research has shown up to 50% reductions in development of diabetes in those who participate in aerobic activity (walking, running, swimming, etc.) on almost every day of the week! A walk a day can prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise is key to weight loss/management. Extra weight puts extra stress on the heart potentially leading to a greater risk of heart disease. Being physically active is key to losing weight or maintaining weight which in turn is key to a healthy heart.
- Exercise strengthens muscles. Although the heart is a muscle, strengthening other muscles in our bodies improves the muscles ability to draw oxygen from the blood. If the muscles can easily draw oxygen from the circulating blood then the heart does not have to work as hard to pump the blood to the muscles.
- Exercise lowers stress both physically and mentally. Our stress hormones can add an extra burden to our hearts and our minds. Any form of physical activity can relax and ease stress. If exercise alleviates stress, then it can elevate our mood. A healthy heart and a healthy mind are both benefits of exercise.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine