Global Running Day 2023: Amazing benefits of running for your heart health

Running or jogging not only fills the heart with joy but can also keep it free from any disease. Aerobic exercises can benefit the cardiovascular system in a number of ways, from lowering blood pressure to improving heart rate to controlling cholesterol. Studies say that regular runners enjoy good heart health as exercise can help prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries. Running is also a great way to lose weight and thus reduce the risk of obesity, which is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. However, if you have any chronic illness, injury or surgery, you should consult your doctor before going on a ride. (Read also: Running for our lives)

Aerobic exercises can benefit the cardiovascular system in a number of ways, from lowering blood pressure to improving heart rate to controlling cholesterol. (unsplash)

“Exercise (including running) is the best and most effective way to prevent heart disease. The benefits of regular physical activity on the heart have been scientifically proven by multiple studies conducted over the past 4-5 decades. These studies have demonstrated a strong and consistent relationship between lack of physical activity and increased cardiovascular disease events and mortality. The benefits of exercise in controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol are well known.” says dr. Rakesh Rai Sapra, Director and Senior Consultant-Cardiology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

Benefits of running for the heart

There are multiple benefits of exercise in preventing heart disease that are less well known. These include:

1. Increase in a good variety of blood cholesterol which is known as high density lipoprotein or HDL. This cholesterol helps prevent the deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels.

2. Reduction of blood clotting tendency: Running can reduce the tendency for blood to clot. This helps reduce the chances of triggering a heart attack.

3. Increased coronary collaterals. Exercises, including running, help increase coronary collaterals. Collaterals are fine connections between various coronary or heart arteries. The growth of these collaterals helps prevent damage to the heart if an artery becomes diseased and blocked as they are an alternative way of providing blood supply to the diseased area.

4. Reduction of mental stress and improvement of the psychological profile. Regular exercise, including running, not only increases physical capacity but also increases mental toughness. During the exercise the mind is taken away from daily worries and thus helps to calm the mind thus reducing the negative effects of mental stress on the heart.

Does it run for everyone?

People who aren’t runners or aren’t used to strenuous exercise should explore running carefully and on the advice of their doctors and fitness instructors. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming and other similar aerobic exercises can also help prevent heart disease.

“The recommended exercise for heart disease prevention is moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. This means brisk walking or light jogging or swimming or playing outside. This should be done for 30 to 40 minutes a day and 4-5 times a week. Doing more strenuous exercise such as marathon is generally not necessary to maintain a healthy heart. But if someone is already doing more strenuous exercise on a daily basis, then it can be continued. What you should remember is that they shouldn’t do strenuous physical activity if they aren’t used to that level of exercise on a regular basis. It’s important to gradually increase the level of exercise as the body’s endurance improves,” says Dr. Will know.

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