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The Link Between Your Heart Health and Fitness

The Link Between Your Heart Health and Fitness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease kills more people than any other health condition. More than 655,000 people succumb to heart disease every year in the United States — that’s about one-fourth of all deaths, and it happens every 36 seconds.

Most of the culprits that lead to heart disease are preventable and controllable:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • Eating junk food
  • Having diabetes
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle

Making a few changes in your daily routine can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease. Dr. David Larson, our expert integrative medicine specialist at SourceMD: Integrated Wellness Solutions in Encinitas, California, can help you understand the link between physical fitness and cardiac health.

Things that harm your heart

To understand how exercise improves your heart health, it helps to know what factors harm your heart and lead to serious cardiac conditions.

Hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, carrying extra weight, and remaining sedentary all take their toll on your cardiovascular system. Cholesterol builds up in your arteries, tobacco toxins deteriorate tissues, and increased blood pressure damages arterial walls.

Over time, your heart succumbs to the constant pressure and pounding. The muscle weakens and can’t pump enough blood through your narrowed arteries, and you end up having a heart attack or another condition, such as:

  • Coronary artery disease: plaque buildup
  • Cardiomyopathy: enlarged heart
  • Atherosclerosis: hardened arteries
  • Arrhythmia: abnormal heart rhythm

Fortunately, you can avoid or at least greatly reduce your risk for these serious heart conditions by making good diet choices, not smoking, and increasing your exercise.

How exercise improves your heart health

Done properly and often enough, exercise can turn your heart health around. If you are able, Dr. Larson typically recommends exercising for about 30 minutes at a time at least five times a week.

While walking is an excellent activity and a great starting point if you’ve been sedentary, your goal should be to increase your resting heart rate to at least 50% of your maximum — the American Cancer Society has a handy guide here.

Increasing your physical activity in this way has a significant effect on your heart health, including:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol
  • Improving your tolerance for exercise
  • Strengthening your heart muscle
  • Increasing your aerobic capacity
  • Improving the function of your vascular walls

Studies show that only about half of Americans get enough physical activity to help them ward off chronic diseases, including heart disease. To find out where you stand, Dr. Larson offers comprehensive fitness testing that evaluates your heart health along with several other health factors, including body composition.

If a little more exercise can help you avoid premature death, it’s worth every step. Contact us at 760-230-1317 to schedule an appointment at SourceMD: Integrative Wellness Solutions to find out how exercise can improve your heart health.