Fitness Any form of physical activity is good for the heart. It's the sedentary lifestyle we lead that is dangerous. Dr. Sengottuvelu

In rapidly growing urban centres, physical inactivity is a great problem. This is largely a natural response to our environment. Urbanisation and modern lifestyle have resulted in several factors that may discourage participation in physical activity. The World Health Organisation notes that our culture increasingly values cars, television, computers, and convenience, making physical activity a less natural part of our lives. Sedentary jobs have reduced the activity of daily routines. The use of numerous gadgets has taken away the necessity of physical labour.

Stay active

Physical inactivity is one of the major causes of heart attacks. The World Health Organisation estimates that physical inactivity causes 1.9 million deaths a year worldwide, and about 22 per cent of coronary heart disease. The present generation is blessed with inventions like elevators, cars, bikes, micro- oven and grinder. But this has not given them any health benefits; instead it has led to increasing number of diseases like heart attacks, arthritis and stroke. As physical activity is no longer part of our daily life, there is need for planned and structured exercise, to maintain our health. Whatever exercise you do, you should enjoy doing it. Any form of exercise for 30 minutes five days a week is enough.

There are different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises involve muscular contractions without visible movement in the angle of the joint. In contrast, isotonic exercise means a contracting muscle shortens against a constant load, as when lifting a weight. Isometric exercises can raise blood pressure significantly during the workout. Though it will return to a normal soon after, this can be dangerous for people with hypertension or any form of cardiovascular disease. Even if you don't suffer from high blood pressure, ensure that you breathe continuously through the exercises. Holding your breath will only increase the blood pressure. Isotonic exercises, on the other hand, have quite a few benefits like improved exercise tolerance and general physical fitness. Raised anginal thresholds through lower myocardial oxygen demands. Improved lipid profile through a greater production of cardio-protective high density lipoproteins. Lower resting heart rates and blood pressure

Reduction anxiety and depression

Reduction in the need for antianginal and antihypertensive drugs. Activities that promote the greatest cardio-vascular protection involve regular and rhythmical use of large muscle mass. Hence, walking, cycling and stepping are ideal activities that allow vaso dilatation of large muscle mass, which lowers peripheral resistance and subsequently opposes a rise in blood pressure that would otherwise occur.

Benefits of physical activity

Being physically active helps improve mental and musculoskeletal health and reduces other risk factors such as being overweight, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Physical activity is a sign of good health. Physical activity maintains muscle strength, joint structure, joint functioning and bone health, which is important for skeletal development in young people and protects against falls and fractures among the elderly. Further, regular physical activity has a beneficial effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Finally, regular physical activity is associated with lower mortality rates for both older and younger adults.

Dr. Sengottuvelu is a Chennai -based Interventional Cardiologist

Being physically active helps improve mental and musculoskeletal health...

Try these simple tips

  • If you like sports, try to play a game like tennis or badminton or go swimming.
  • A simple option is walking, cycling or jogging.
  • Include physical activity in your daily activities.
  • Avoid using your car or bike for short distances. Use a bicycle or walk.
  • When shopping, park your car some distance away and walk to the store.
  • Use stairs instead of elevators.
  • Always walk with your friends while chatting.
  • Don't shy away from dancing in a party.

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