You know that regular exercise contributes to heart health, improves mood and mental well-being and supports healthy weight control.
But do you know that recent studies show that heart health is more accurately indicated by your level of regular physical activity than by your body mass, even factoring in obesity?
This means that the effects of not exercising are worse for your health than being overweight.
Of course, it is well known that a couch potato lifestyle without regular, or any, exercise is not good for your health for a bunch of reasons. Not only can being sedentary lead to chronic pain, muscle loss and overall soreness, but studies also show that those who don’t move have a 35% higher risk of developing high blood pressure, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) identifies a sedentary lifestyle as one of the top major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors included on this list are: high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids and smoking.
Still, being overweight is not great either, as it puts you at higher risk for a long list of health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis—which all increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, studies have found that abdominal adiposity, or central abdominal obesity, is the “most important single factor” contributing to insulin sensitivity in old age.
It is also now understood that there is a strong relationship between intra-abdominal fat (“belly fat”) and your metabolism, which has greater effects on your overall health. Intra-abdominal fat has a negative effect on your blood lipid levels and blood pressure, which interfere with your body’s ability to use insulin effectively. This puts you at higher risk for diabetes, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. As your weight and volume of intra-abdominal fat increase, so do your risks for developing type 2 diabetes and hypertension, with a body mass index (BMI) above 21 linked to 58% of diabetes cases and 21% of ischemic heart disease cases.
The American Heart Association estimates that as many as 250,000 U.S. deaths per year are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity. Studies have found that those who are more physically active are less likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) than those who are sedentary. With regular, effective aerobic activity, your heart will work more efficiently, which will help you better control high levels of cholesterol in the blood and improve your body’s ability to process blood sugars.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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