Heart Benefits of Aerobic Fitness

Last Updated: June 21, 2019 | 3 minute read


Woman exercising

We all know that general exercise is good for us, but a recent study has shown that there are specific heart benefits from aerobic exercise in particular.

You’ve just run up a storm and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Now you can feel even better, because it turns out that aerobic exercise not only benefits your overall health and well-being, it also has proven benefits to the health of your heart.

Aerobic exercise is any training that improves your cardiovascular fitness by improving your body’s ability to consume oxygen. In other words, it’s time to work up a sweat.

Typically this form of vigorous exercise uses steady, continuous rhythmic movements to elevate your heart rate, common examples being running, swimming and aerobic classes like Cross Fit and Zumba.

Healthy Heart Exercise

For the past two decades, scientists and researchers from the Department of Integrative Physiology (IPHY) at the University of Colorado Boulder have been studying the effects of regular aerobic exercise. Their findings have shown that aerobic exercise helps to protect against common cardiac conditions.

Previously, it was thought that the positive effects of exercise were solely due to an improvement in things such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body fat. However through their studies, the team at IPHY have found that exercise also benefits arterial stiffness, helps to improve protein structure within the blood vessel wall and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.

Even better, the team found that aerobic exercise appears to reverse or provide some resistance against existing risk factors of major heart issues as well. In effect, making our bodies stronger and more resilient.

+ Exercise is also beneficial to mitochondrial health, learn how this affects your heart

Regular aerobic exercise include running and cycling

Should You Exercise After a Heart Attack?

If you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack, it’s only natural to want to take things easy. But a growing body of evidence indicates that controlled exercise following a heart attack is a good thing and may reverse or prevent structural changes that typically occur in the heart tissue following such a major event.

A heart attack occurs when part of the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked, causing part of the heart muscle to become injured or die. Symptoms vary, with some people only noticing a slight pain or discomfort whereas symptoms in others can be very intense.

Following the event, the heart attempts to self-repair. Tough fibrous tissue accumulates at and around the site of the damage. This distorts the shape of the heart, making it stiffer, and limiting its ability to pump.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Physical exercise training after a heart attack has been shown in a recent World Journal of Cardiology study to improve heart function, reduce the amount of fibrous tissue that accumulates within the heart, enhance the release of natural antioxidants and reduce oxidative stress. If you’ve recently had a heart attack, think about getting your heart back in shape and talk with your doctor about what exercise is best for you.

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