Exercise provides many health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It can also act on the risk factors which can heighten the chances of developing these life-threatening conditions.
The benefits occur on several fronts. Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight which can improve blood sugar control. It can also improve cholesterol by increasing the levels of HDL or good cholesterol in the blood.
This effect is particularly desirable in that HDL can reduce total cholesterol. The more HDL one has, the more efficient the body is at controlling cholesterol. Exercise provides an excellent means of accomplishing this goal. It also represents the controlled factor of health risk and the measure of control one has over her health.
Circulatory System Adaptations
The human body strives to maintain a state of homeostasis despite the stress it endures. When an individual engages in regular physical activity, the body adapts to increase its efficiency and conserve resources, namely energy and sugar.
In the circulatory system, the heart and muscles supporting respiratory system function will become stronger. More blood is pumped through the body and more oxygen is obtained from breathing. These effects mean that the body can deliver more oxygenated blood more quickly to the cells.
Arteries become more flexible with regular exercise so they can respond more efficiently to changes in blood pressure. Because the efficiency of the system increases, resting heart rate lowers. The benefits are realized even when the individual is not active.
Decrease in Cholesterol
Exercise will increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol poses a cardiovascular risk due to plaque formation and narrowing of the arteries. When the arteries narrow, the pressure within the blood vessels increases, as noted by a rise in blood pressure.
Types of Exercise
Both resistance training and aerobic workouts can increase cardiovascular fitness. The latter adds the additional benefit of weight management which can further reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommends an exercise goal of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for cardiovascular fitness.
Cardio workouts can be included on most days of the week. The important thing is to choose an activity which is enjoyable and which presents an easy way to exercise. Having to drive to the gym poses a barrier to exercise which can affect the ability to engage in regular exercise.
Exercise provides a means of preventing and treating blood pressure which is attainable and accessible by most individuals. It empowers the individual to take control over her health through a means which has proven health benefits.