Thirty minutes of exercise a day can reduce your risk of heart disease

See how just 30 minutes’ physical activity every day can help reduce your risk of heart disease

18 September 2018 - 08:48
Image: Supplied/Mediclinic

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. But almost one-third of adults around the world are not active.

New WHO research shows that an average of 28% of adults around the world are physically inactive. It estimates women are less active than men. Thirty-two percent of men were found to be getting enough physical activity, while only 23% of women were considered to be physically active.   

The numbers are much worse for South Africa. Forty-seven percent of women and 29% of men do not do the minimum amount of exercise they need to stay healthy.

Research shows inertia is the leading risk factor for developing chronic diseases.

Here are some of the benefits of keeping active:

Exercise can lower your risk of disease

Physical activity can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. It also has been found to have a positive effect on mental health, and can delay the onset of dementia.

Exercise improves chronic illness

If you already have a non-communicable disease, working out can help manage your symptoms and improve your general health.  

An aerobic workout can improve your heart health. Strength training can help with muscle strength and endurance, make it easier to do daily activities, slow down disease-related decline in muscle strength, and provide stability to joints.

Flexibility training can promote the optimal range of motion in your joints so they can function best. Stability exercises can help reduce the risk of falls.

If you have diabetes, regular movement can help lower blood sugar levels. Low-impact aerobic training can improve core muscle function.

If you have arthritis, it can help reduce pain.

Exercise reduces the risk of being overweight

Being physically active can help control and maintain your weight. Being physically inactive can increase obesity. This is a major risk factor to a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and some cancers such as breast, ovarian and prostate.

Exercise is good for your heart

A regular workout helps strengthen your heart and promote positive physiological changes, such as encouraging the heart’s arteries to dilate more readily. It also helps your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your heart rate and blood pressure) to be less reactive.

But you don’t have to live at the gym. Even a single bout of activity may protect your heart right away through a process known as ischemic preconditioning, according to a recent article in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Research has also shown that if you have heart disease, interval training can be beneficial but it’s advisable to talk to your doctor before starting any new training programme.

Exercise is good for your blood pressure

Reducing your blood pressure can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Working out regularly makes your heart stronger and a strong heart can pump blood with less effort. The Mayo Clinic explains that if your heart works less hard to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, which leads to lower blood pressure.

While it may be challenging to get to the gym, the benefits of a regular workout far outweigh staying in and catching up on the latest series. Aerobic fitness can help improve your heart health and endurance and aid in weight loss. High-intensity interval training is generally safe and effective for most people and can take less time. But even activities such as taking brisk walks count.

This article was paid for by Mediclinic.