Physical activity is as beneficial to your heart as medication. Here are 6 benefits:
1. Exercise lowers blood pressure. It works like beta-blocker medication to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
2. Exercise is key to weight control. Being physically active is an essential component for losing weight and keeping it off. Being overweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
3. Exercise helps strengthen muscles. A combination of aerobic workouts (i.e. walking, running, swimming) and strength training is considered best for heart health. This reduces the need for the heart to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles.
4. Exercise helps you quit smoking. As smokers become fit, they often quit. People who are fit are less likely to ever start smoking.
5. Exercise helps stop, or slow the development of diabetes. When combines with strength training, regular aerobic exercise such as biking or swimming can reduce the risk of diabetes by allowing the muscles to process glycogen, a fuel for energy.
6. Exercise reduces stress. Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercise can help you relax and ease stress.
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