Effects of Exercise on Cardiovascular Function
Saginaw Valley State University
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide that affects the heart and the surrounding vasculature (Mathers et al. 2009). CVD can be brought on by behavioral or inherited characteristics such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, family history, and a sedentary lifestyle (World Health Organization, 2013). These conditions and thus cardiovascular disease are prevalent among African American, Hispanic and other minority populations. The underlying cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque inside the arteries over many years. Plaque is made of various blood components, including fat and cholesterol that hardens with time and narrows the arteries, limiting oxygenated blood to parts of the body. As a result of plaque buildup, people are at a greater risk of succumbing to heart attacks and strokes. Those at risk of cardiovascular disease are recommended to cease smoking, healthier food choices, be physically active and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A routine of regular exercise can be highly effective for preventing, treating and improving cardiovascular (CV) health and longevity. Those that are physically active on a regular basis have lower rates of disability and an increased life expectancy by about seven years (O’Keefe et al. 2012). Physical activity is any bodily movement that causes energy expenditure. Exercise is a defined subset of physical activity with a planned, repetitive, and structured goal of maintaining physical fitness (Shepard et al. 1999). Middle aged subjects were given biological markers and underwent cognitive testing and stress testing to determine the effects that intervention, exercise and a healthy life style has on cardiovascular, metabolism, and cognitive function in adults with type II diabetes. Participants had an increase in cardiovascular fitness and decreased body mass index. Significant changes in heart rate, systolic or diastolic blood pressure were not detected (Fiocco et al. 2013). Traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease contribute to about fifty percent of all new cardiovascular disease cases, meaning that other factors, such as psychological stress play a role in cardiovascular disease (Chida and Steptoe, 2010). A group completed a 12 week high intensity exercise (HIIE) program to measure the cardiovascular and autonomic response through mental and physical challenge in males. As expected, reduced body weight and waist circumference were observed. A 17 percent increase in aerobic fitness levels indicate that high intensity exercise significantly increases aerobic power in both males and females. Exercisers showed a decrease in arterial stiffness and increase in baroreceptor sensitivity response. High intensity exercise training showed a change in baseline levels of heart rate, rate pressure product, stroke volume, and arterial stiffness (Heydari et. al 2013). Time is often the major reason for not exercising but the brief high intensity exercise program, usually an hour a week could attract individuals and get involved in improving cardiovascular health. The HIIE 12 week program found an overall change in aerobic fitness, body weight and enhanced cardiovascular efficiency.
Exercise training alone has proven to alter an individuals’ likelihood to develop cardiovascular disease however, vigorous periods of exercise have been reported to increase atrial fibrillation. Individuals with moderate intense exercise were at a lower risk for atrial fibrillation than those with no regular exercise. Participants that walked between 5 to 60 blocks per week generally had a much lower risk for developing atrial fibrillation compared to those that walked at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Increased physical activity was associated with lower blood pressure,...
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