Heart disease is the biggest killer, but it’s slightly misnamed. The real culprit is artery disease. Those thousands of pipes that connect your heart to everything else carry the food and oxygen for life .
When they are clogged with clot or cholesterol, they fail in their function, and damage ensues. A program of lifelong physical exercise is the single most important protection against stopped up pipes and heart trouble.
Exercise confers major advantages on virtually every step in the process that leads to circulatory collapse. Once a heart attack or stroke has occurred, a cure is not only unlikely, but impossible. The doctors struggle to preserve what is left, but when the damage is already don; permanent injury results.
One reason that the recognition of exercise’s preventive force in heart and artery trouble has taken so long to be appreciated is the numbers of reports that indicated the relatively short life expectancy of college athletes.
If exercise were good for you, how come these stars failed to live long lives? The answer now is very simple. Merely because an individual was fit in his or her 20s means little if the level of fitness isn’t sustained into the 60s and beyond.
To provide value, physical exercise must be a lifelong habit. The benefits exercise brings to the fight against heart disease are huge. All of the factors that contribute to heart attacks because of blocked arteries can be addressed by exercise.
Not only does exercise help lower the total blood cholesterol levels, but it alters the types of cholesterol as well. Exercise also helps lower the blood pressure. As you no doubt know, people with higher blood pressure run higher risks of heart disease.
When you exercise, your arteries dilate, and thus the blood has a larger volume within which to be distributed, and in turn blood pressure falls. Want more evidence? Exercise helps smokers quit. Cigarette smoking is a strong predictor of early heart problems.
Almost no one who is physically active smokes. Rather than my trying to convince my heart disease patients to stop smoking, I instead encourage them to start to exercise. It is easier to engage in positive behavior than to stop negative behavior.
More? Exercise cuts down .the clottability of blood, so it is less likely that a block will occur in a crucial artery. There are many medical efforts to thin the blood of people with heart disease. Exercise does it naturally.
Finally, exercise enlarges the arteries. Larger arteries can tolerate more cholesterol sludge passing through. All of these and more provide ample incentive to be fit. Heart surgeons and undertakers probably won’t like it, but as you become better conditioned, your arteries and your heart will thank you for preserving their ability to keep the juices flowing.