Rationally, most of us know how important regular exercise is for our physical well-being. But unfortunately, research shows that the majority of Americans still aren’t fitting in enough fitness. In fact, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that only 23% of adults meet federal physical activity guidelines. In other words, less than a quarter of U.S. residents get enough exercise.
Failing to make exercise a priority can have a number of undesirable effects. From your weight to your mental state, you’ll risk a lot by leading a sedentary lifestyle. Perhaps most notably, you could end up jeopardizing your coronary health -- and you might not know enough to take action until it’s too late.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Every year, approximately 525,000 Americans experience their first heart attack. For those who survive, this event may serve as a necessary wake-up call that major lifestyle changes need to be made. Those who know heart disease runs in their family may be looking for a way to mitigate those risks. In both cases, an answer may be found in exercise.
One 2013 study found that higher levels of physical activity correlated to fewer coronary heart disease events for men (21% reduction) and women (29% reduction). In addition, Australian research has found that those who began exercise regimes after experiencing a cardiac event, and whose disease symptoms were stable, experienced a 31% decreased risk of having a second (and possibly fatal) cardiac event. Another study found that men who walked briskly for 30 minutes per day were 20% likely to develop heart disease as compared to men who didn’t exercise at all or did so very little. Men who lifted weights reduced their heart disease risk even more (by 25%), while men who ran for at least an hour every week reduced their heart disease risk by 40%.
The idea that exercise can be a welcome way to fight coronary events is backed up by the American Heart Association’s recommendations. This organization suggests getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise -- or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise -- per week to improve cardiovascular health. Committing to a 30-minute exercise program five times a week can allow you to meet those recommendations.
Although embarking on a physical fitness routine can feel intimidating at first, it’s truly the best way to safeguard your health. If you start out small, you’ll eventually be able to work up to your goals (and work up a sweat). Not only will you feel better and look better, but you’ll also have peace of mind about your health in the long term.
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