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Exercise and prevention of CVD

Most of us would have heard the slogan, exercise is good for your health and that you should
exercise regularly, without really understanding the benefits of exercise to the cardiovascular
system. Also we may feel that unless we register with a gym we cannot start exercising, and so we
procrastinate on when to start. This does not have to be the case. Here are some facts that may
There are two types of exercise that are recommended for the cardiovascular system, aerobic
exercise and mild resistant training exercise. Aerobic exercise also referred to as cardio includes
brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and sports that make you move around like lawn tennis,
squash, golf, etc. While resistance training exercises are muscle toning exercises, for example using
a dumbbell.
Benefits of exercise to the cardiovascular system includes, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk
of developing diabetes mellitus. It helps us to lose weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for
cardiovascular disease. Exercise helps to boost the antioxidant level in the body, helping to prevent
the development of atherosclerosis in blood vessels. It helps to control the serum cholesterol,
increasing high density lipoprotein, HDL, known as the good cholesterol. Exercise also slows down
the heart rate, which allows the heart to rest and improve its performance. This also contributes in
lowering the blood pressure. Lastly exercise reduces the level of stress hormones in the system, it
increases the production of endorphins, which are hormones that improves your mood, making you
feel happy, reducing the stress on your cardiovascular system.
The general guideline for exercise includes 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise 5 times a week
with some moderate resistance training exercise about 2 times a week. The exercise should be of
moderate intensity that is within your strength, if you get unduly fatigued or breathless, you should
stop and see your doctor. For those who are too busy to carry out formal exercise, they are advised
to carry around a device called a pedometer which counts the number of steps you’ve taken during
the course of the day. The target is 10,000 steps a day. The whole idea is to be physically active and
avoid a sedentary lifestyle, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.


About Dr Okocha

Consultant Cardiologist with interest in preventive cardiology

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