Your potential for achieving a high level of fitness is established at birth. To develop this potential, you need to engage in a regular routine of physical activity.
If you have atherosclerosis, exercise may allow some compensation for the reduced flow of blood and oxygen through your coronary arteries. Your collateral circulation may be improved, and the oxygen demands of your heart muscle may be reduced by a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and other beneficial changes of your heart muscle that enable your heart to perform more efficiently.
Regular aerobic exercise will also produce the following beneficial changes for you:
For example, the volume of blood that your heart pumps each times it beats will be greater, thereby decreasing number of beats needed per minute to pump a given amount of blood. The skeletal muscles in the arms and legs of a trained person use oxygen more efficiently and impose less demand on an already compromises heart for a given amount of work.
Exercise is now prescribed regularly for patients with coronary heart disease. Medically supervised programs that enroll patients two months after they have had a heart attack or coronary artery bypass surgery are widely available, and some programs even accepts patients within two weeks of hospital discharge.
Such persons under proper medical supervision can generally demonstrate the same type of cardiovascular conditioning as persons who have not had clinical evidence of coronary heart disease.