Table of Contents
- Recommended Exercise Methods
- Exercise's Effects on the Heart
- Exercise's Effects on Diabetes
- Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
- Exercise's Effects on the Lungs
- Exercise's Effects on Weight
- Exercise's Effects on Other Conditions
Exercise's Effects on the Heart
Inactivity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. However, exercise helps improve heart health, and can even reverse some heart disease risk factors.
Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue working at maximum level, if needed, with less strain. The resting heart rate of those who exercise is also slower because less effort is needed to pump blood.
A person who exercises often and vigorously has the lowest risk for heart disease, but any amount of exercise is beneficial. Studies consistently find that light-to-moderate exercise is even beneficial in people with existing heart disease. Note, however, that anyone with heart disease or cardiac risk factors should seek medical advice before beginning a workout program.
Effects of Exercise on Heart Disease and Cholesterol
Exercise has a number of effects that benefit the heart and circulation (blood flow throughout the body). These benefits include improving cholesterol and fat levels, reducing inflammation in the arteries, helping weight loss programs, and helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open. Studies continue to show that physical activity and avoiding high-fat foods are the two most successful means of reaching and maintaining heart-healthy levels of fitness and weight.
The American Heart Association recommends that individuals perform moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. This recommendation supports similar exercise guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Review Date: 05/08/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.