AHA Scientific Position
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is characterized by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It also contributes to other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes. Even moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most or all days. Why is exercise or physical activity important?
Regular aerobic physical activity increases your fitness level and capacity for exercise. It also plays a role in both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Regular physical activity can help control blood lipid abnormalities, diabetes and obesity. Aerobic physical activity can also help reduce blood pressure. The results of pooled studies show that people who modify their behavior and start regular physical activity after heart attack have better rates of survival and better quality of life. Healthy people — as well as many patients with cardiovascular disease — can improve their fitness and exercise performance with training. How can physical activity help condition my body?
• Some activities improve flexibility, some build muscular strength and some increase endurance. • Some forms of continuous activities involve using the large muscles in your arms or legs. These are called endurance or aerobic exercises. They help the heart by making it work more efficiently during exercise and at rest. • Brisk walking, jumping rope, jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing and dancing are examples of aerobic activities that increase endurance. How can I improve...