There are dozens of reasons to incorporate cardiovascular activities into your health and wellness routine. From enhanced mental health to improved self-confidence, cardiovascular training has a massive impact on our minds, bodies, and emotions.
One of the most important benefits of cardiovascular training is the ability to help prevent or reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. Chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes or Heart Disease, can take a major toll on a person's quality of life as they age.
As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), physical cardiovascular activity can help reduce your risk of developing many of these common chronic diseases. But how? Explore the specific ways cardiovascular training works to reduce your risk of chronic illness in this helpful guide below.
Lowering Blood Pressure and Hypertension Risk
Cardiovascular exercise is a powerful and natural way to help reduce your blood pressure. Exercise allows your heart to become stronger, which means your heart can beat and pump blood around the body with less effort required.
This efficiency of your heart helps to decrease the pressure and force put on your heart's arteries, making it healthier overall. By reducing the stiffness of your heart's blood vessels, you'll help support healthy blood pressure levels. Remember, high blood pressure levels increase your risk of developing chronic disease, so keeping blood pressure levels in check can help reduce your overall risk.
Improving Insulin Sensitivity and Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin sensitivity refers to your body's ability to appropriately respond to insulin. When a person becomes insulin sensitive, this means their body can lower blood glucose levels after eating by producing less insulin than a person who is insulin resistant. When insulin resistance develops, your body's cells can no longer respond the right way to insulin, causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream (high blood glucose).
Research shows that people who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise tend to be more insulin-sensitive, thereby reducing the risk of developing pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. The type of exercise doesn't need to be intense either, as even types of low-intensity cardiovascular training, such as walking, can improve your insulin sensitivity.
Reducing LDL Cholesterol and Promoting Heart Health
LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is a type of "bad" cholesterol that can increase a person's risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Luckily, LDL cholesterol levels can be managed with smart lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise habits.
Taking part in aerobic and cardiovascular activity can help reduce your LDL cholesterol levels over time without the need for medication. For example, cardio activities such as jogging, swimming, or brisk walking can help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels while also increasing HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). It's a win-win situation for your heart!
Not sure what your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels are? Speak to your healthcare provider to ask about running cholesterol labs as part of your preventative health screening. Labs can be retested over time to help determine the success of your lifestyle changes in improving cholesterol lab values.
Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
For many people, the motivation to begin a cardiovascular training program begins with the desire to lose body weight. The calories you burn when you perform a cardio exercise are helpful in maintaining a healthy body weight. Excess body weight and/or Obesity are major risk factors for nearly every chronic disease – making cardio a must-do for anyone who wants to prevent or lower their risk of developing a chronic disease.
To maintain a healthy body weight, try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise each week (per CDC recommendations). If your goal is to lose body weight, aim to find a cardio activity that produces a high caloric burn, such as running. Some other examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include jumping rope, swimming laps, or participating in competitive sports such as football or basketball.
Enhancing Overall Immune Function
People with a poor or weakened immune system are more likely to be at risk for developing illnesses or diseases. With this in mind. It's important to take measures to support your immune function, such as starting a cardiovascular training routine.
In a study by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that basic aerobic exercises such as walking can be powerful to help activate immune cells in the body. This immune system boost helps prevent illnesses and keep the body strong.
Exercise is Powerful for Chronic Disease Prevention
These benefits of cardiovascular activity clearly define the powerful role of exercise in helping to prevent and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. Start by making small changes to develop a regular cardio workout plan, finding a cardio exercise you love and can commit to participating in regularly.
Cardiovascular training can play a crucial role in promoting and boosting your overall long-term health when combined with other health practices too. Learn more ways to optimize your health by exploring the ActiveFit+ blog for more lifestyle content to help support your journey to improving your health.