There is a wealth of evidence that being sedentary contributes to heart disease. Individuals who are inactive have accelerated hardening of the arteries, higher blood sugars, and sticky blood vessels and platelets. These factors cause plugging of the arteries with cholesterol plaques and sudden onset of blood clots that rapidly deprive the heart muscle of oxygen. The result is a heart attack. Many heart attack victims never make it to the hospital for treatment because they die of a sudden irregular heart beat.
It is well accepted that physical activity provides a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels. Regularly getting the heart rate up, and keeping it there causes the heart to become more efficient, and keeps the arteries clean of cholesterol and plaque. There are several reasons for the benefits of activity, including improved blood sugars, reduced inflammatory chemicals in the blood stream, and reduced blood pressure. Exercising as little as 1 1/2 hours per week has been shown to drop blood pressure by 10 points.
There are other great reasons to exercise. Being physically active makes you feel better – it is one of the quickest cures for stress and anxiety. Exercise INCREASES energy level. From a weight loss standpoint, physical activity is the best predictor of keeping off weight for those who have lost weight.
How do you get started if you are inactive? Here are some tips:
- Start with small goals. Beginning with even 5 minutes daily will help you build a routine that you can build upon. Increase the duration by 1 minute each time.
- Choose an activity you enjoy. Walking, dancing, active video games like Wii Fit, tennis and basketball can be just as beneficial as pounding a treadmill, and probably more fun.
- If you ever experience sudden shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, Left arm pain, jaw pain, rapid heart beat, or unexplained indigestion, lightheadedness or weakness, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. At least half of persons who are having a heart attack have atypical symptoms. Not everyone with a heart attack has classic chest pain and shortness of breath. Never ignore an unexplained new symptom.
At Scottsdale Weight Loss Center, we specialize in helping people who are inactive become energetic and physically fit. I saw a patient this month in his 50’s who has lost over 55 pounds. His program included regular exercise and a meal plan he found easier than any diet he has ever attempted. He tells all his friends he has never felt better!