Engaging in regular physical activity is apparent in the prevention of several chronic disease including; Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer, Depression, Obesity, Cardiovascular, Osteoporosis etc.
The United Nations Inter-Agency task force on sport for development and peace stated that young people can benefit from physical activity as it contributes to developing healthy bones, efficient heart and lung function as well as improved motor skills and cognitive function.
Cardiovascular Health and Exercise
Regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of the established risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Some of the risk factors are;
- Uncontrolled diabetes.
- High LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and low HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
- Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Physical inactivity.
- Reduction in body weight
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
- Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
Exercise training improves the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise or hormones, consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles during exercise.
In 1996, the National Institute of Health agreed that exercise is a key component to health promotion and disease prevention. The report says by engaging in at least 30 minutes of modest activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Modest activity is defined as any activity that is similar in intensity to brisk walking at a rate of about 3 to 4 miles per hour. These activities can include any other form of occupational or recreational activity that is dynamic in nature and of similar intensity, such as cycling, yard work, and swimming. This amount of exercise equates approximately 600 to 1200 calories expended per week.
Risk of a cardiac event is significantly lower among regular exercisers. Evidence suggests that a sedentary person’s risk is nearly 50 times higher than the risk for a person who exercises about 5 times per week. Stated simply, individuals who exercise regularly are much less likely to experience a problem during exercise. Moreover, contrary to popular view, most heart attacks (approximately 90%) occur in the resting state, not during physical activity.
Exercise is therefore considered to be extremely safe. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be aware of the warning signs or symptoms that may indicate a problem: chest discomfort (pain or pressure in the chest, jaw, or neck, possibly radiating into the shoulder, arm, or back), unusual shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, and heart rhythm abnormalities (sensations of heart beat skipping, palpitations, or thumping). If one of these symptoms occurs, medical attention should be sought immediately.
- Pate RR, Pratt MP, Blair SN, et al. Physical activity and public health: a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA, 1995; 273: 402–407.
- American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 6th ed. Baltimore, Md: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000.
- Fletcher GF, Balady GJ, Amsterdam EA, et al. Exercise standards for testing and training: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2001; 104: 1694–1740.
Written By; Samira Keinan – Medical Nurse