Exercise doesn’t just make us look good, it makes us feel good too. Regular activity can also greatly improve the vascular system and reduce the risk of some health conditions. If you need a bit of motivation to help get or stay active, here’s a look at how exercise can improve your vascular health.
Lower blood pressure
Regular activity can help slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a major risk factor for many vascular diseases, it’s important to keep moving.
Exercise is an excellent stress-reliever. If you talk to your physician about having too much stress, one of the first things they will likely recommend is increased physical activity. Since stress hormones can put a burden on the heart, it’s a crucial factor for a healthy vascular system.
Being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for vascular conditions as well. Working out regularly and eating right helps you lose weight and keep it off, which can help reduce the risk for stroke and heart disease.
Reduce the risk of diabetes
Johns Hopkins research found that aerobic exercise, combined with strength training, can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by more than 50%. The reason is that this type of physical activity allows the muscles to process glycogen better.
Improve cholesterol levels
Physical activity can help to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as the “good” cholesterol. It also helps stimulate enzymes that move low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, from the blood. LDL is moved to the liver, where it’s converted to bile and either digested or excreted — all with the help of exercise.
Lower blood sugar
Muscles can use blood glucose or sugar. Exercising can essentially make immediate use of blood sugar, which means less goes into your system.
Tips to get moving
Knowing why it’s so important to exercise doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get up and get moving. Daily stresses and responsibilities can make it hard to get to the gym or find time to work out. Here are tips to make sure you get enough physical activity each day to remain healthy.
1. Don’t wait for the new year
One mistake we all make is putting off starting to work out. It’s easy to say that you’ll start fresh next week, next month, or next year, but procrastinating activity will only make it harder.
2. Start small
Thinking about joining a gym, figuring out a routine, going every day can be daunting, so don’t worry about that just yet. If you are just getting back into the world of working out, start with small changes.
- Take the stairs 1-2 days per week.
- Park your car a little further away from the office, so you have an extra 5-10 minute walk in the morning and afternoon.
- Walk around the office or outside for half of your lunch break.
3. Wear a fitness tracker
Fitness tracker or step counters are excellent ways to figure out how much we’re exercising so we can improve a little each day. Track how many steps you take or how many calories you burn and aim to increase that amount each day or each week.
4. Find an exercise you enjoy
Some people hate gyms and others can’t stand running – that’s OK! There are many different classes and exercises to choose from, so it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your needs. There are a variety of aerobic and dance classes, swimming, walking, weight training, and more. It’s OK to test a few out before finding the right type of exercise that works for you.
5. Just move
If none of the above sounds appealing, just remember it’s important to just move. Try to get at least thirty minutes to one hour per day of movement, which will greatly increase your vascular health.
Always speak to your doctor about any medical conditions or to ask for advice on what exercise might be right for you.