Cardiovascular diseases and exercise


Recipe for cardiovascular diseases


All over the world most countries are now facing an unhealthy future burdened with a slew of lifestyle diseases. But instead of expensive medication and therapy, the cure lies in making exercise a compulsory part of everyday life.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Common CVDs include: ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease (RHD), aortic aneurysms, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, congenital heart disease, endocarditis, and peripheral artery disease (PAD), among others.

The underlying causes may vary depending on the disease in question. IHD, stroke, and PAD involve atherosclerosis. This may be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol, among others.

Nowadays most people depend on machines and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Guys sit in the office, 8 hours a day, everyday, most probably eating fast food, and not doing very much exercise.

These patterns of behavior is slowly becoming a bad culture amongst many people in the developing world, and this is especially true in, Kenya, where we are fast becoming an obese and overweight society.

As a society we are doing less and less physical activity. We do not climb stairs any more, with lifts and escalators being ever omnipresent.

This real problem begins with children who prefer to stay indoors watching television or playing video games rather than spending time in the playground, or playing outside. For a start, people need to start riding bicycles to work or to school in urban areas.

Cardiovascular diseases are a major challenge for today’s governments. In Africa it is slowly becoming a major problem, even among the low income areas.

CVDs are no longer a problem for the old, rich and wealthy households as they once were. More and younger people are today afflicted by coronary artery disease.

Researchers conducted what they say is a first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data from 188 countries. More than 50 percent of the world’s 671 million obese people live in just 10 of those countries: United States, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, Indonesia.

The highest proportion of the world’s obese people, 13 percent, live in the United States. China and India together represent 15 percent of the world’s obese population. Rates in the study were age-standardized, meaning they were adjusted for differences in population size and ages over time and across countries.

Currently, prevalence of coronary heart disease in Africa and Asia is 8-10 per cent in urban areas and 5-6 per cent in rural areas. Regular exercise can significantly help prevent risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and type II diabetes. It can also help keep people’s weight in check.

What Are the benefits of exercise?

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 5 major risk factors that can increase one’s chances of getting CVDs, along with high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids, smoking, and obesity. Regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of the established risk factors just mentioned..

Exercise promotes weight reduction, helps reduce blood pressure, reduces “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood as well as total cholesterol, and can also help raise the “good” cholesterol.

Exercise also helps improve muscular function, strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue.

This is particularly important for patients with cardiovascular disease, whose exercise capacity is typically lower than that of healthy individuals.

Exercise also has the ability to improve the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise or hormones, which is consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles (including the heart) during exercise.

All of which significantly helps reduce the 5 major risk factors for CVDs, keeping you and your heart healthy! Added benefits of exercise also includes more self-confidence, lower stress, and less anxiety.

How long should one exercise?

Every adult should participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.

Moderate activities can be defined as walking briskly at about 5kms per hour, and may include wide variety of occupational or recreational activities, including yard work, household tasks, cycling, swimming and even running.

group exer

Thirty minutes of moderate activity daily equates to 600 to 1200 calories of energy expended per week, which will definitely get you we’ll on your way to keeping your heart healthy!

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