Heart Health and Sports

Can you give information about the effects of sports on our health?

We can define sports as all physical activities and exercises that benefit our physical and mental health and contribute to social relations. This definition can include all physical activities, organized or not, recreational or compulsory, performed alone or with other people.

Regular exercise or sports are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People who are physically active are expected to live healthier and longer lives. Sports not only make us physically fit, but also beneficial for our mental health and our overall well-being. These beneficial effects of sports apply not only to young and healthy people, but also to children, the elderly, those with chronic diseases and pregnant women. Today, more and more people are living in a sedentary lifestyle called sedentary life due to the decrease in physical activity-based work, regular use of vehicles and elevators, and therefore reduced walking, and being more busy with activities such as television and internet instead of spending time based on physical activity.

Sports have been shown to reduce the risk of many diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, as well as many more general health benefits. First and foremost, regular physical activity improves the quality of life by preserving the structure and activity of the muscles, bones, joints and cardiovascular system. Regular exercise is one of the most important factors in maintaining ideal body weight against obesity, which poses a risk for many diseases and is increasing in prevalence with the modern lifestyle.

The benefit of regular exercise is well known in terms of reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and stroke, and slowing the rate of progression and reducing complications after these diseases appear. In addition, regular sports can reduce the development and complaints of osteoporosis (bone loss) and osteoarthritis, which are common in the elderly. It has been shown to increase bone density, especially in older women. Bone fractures and joint tears are less common in those who exercise regularly. In addition, low back and back pain due to causes such as herniated disc is reduced. Certain types of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer, occur less frequently in physically active people. There are even scientific studies showing that physical activity can be protective against uterine and lung cancer. It may be as useful as drugs in both preventing and reducing the complications of type 2 diabetes, which is increasing in relation to obesity. Similar benefits have been shown in hypertension and hyperlipidemia, which are risk factors for coronary heart disease such as diabetes, and which are manifested by increased blood lipids.

In addition to its known physical benefits, which we have briefly summarized, it is also beneficial for mental health. Depression is less common in people who do sports regularly and treatment is easier. Beneficial effects have also been observed in those with anxiety-related disorders such as phobia, panic attacks, or stress. It is thought to be beneficial in terms of improving brain functions, especially in the elderly and children.

What is the importance of sports for heart health?

In terms of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and stroke, which are the most important causes of death for both men and women in the world, it has been shown in many scientific studies that regular exercise or sports are of great benefit both for their prevention and for reducing their effects and prolonging life after they appear. Coronary artery disease, which we call atherosclerosis, occurs due to insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle due to the gradual formation of fat and plaque on the inner surface of the coronary vessels that feed the heart, and then its gradual growth. Traditional risk factors that are well known to increase the risk of developing this disease are advanced age, male gender, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia diseases. Unhealthy diet, obesity and sedentary life are among the risk factors associated with them. Regular exercise has a beneficial effect on almost all of these risk factors that can be corrected. Regular exercise is known to increase the likelihood and facilitate smoking cessation. It has also been shown that it delays the onset of hypertension, one of these risk factors, and reduces blood pressure in 75% of those with hypertension. This blood pressure lowering effect occurs when doing sports, and its effect approaches the blood pressure lowering effect of hypertension drugs, reducing the need for these drugs. In addition, regular exercise is effective in reducing LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, and in increasing HDL cholesterol, which is called good cholesterol and is protective for this disease. Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, are beneficial both to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is closely related to obesity, and to keep blood sugar at a normal level after it occurs. There is evidence that atherosclerosis begins in early childhood, so measures to prevent and slow its progression are more effective if started at an early age. There are scientific studies showing that coronary artery disease develops more frequently in later ages due to sedentary life in childhood and as a result of obesity, which is more common today. For this, it is important to start and establish a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, in childhood. Regular exercise is also beneficial to prevent the progression of the disease and its effects such as heart attack and rhythm disorder after coronary artery disease.

In addition, regular exercise increases both the quality of life and the expected life expectancy, both after a heart attack due to coronary artery disease and heart failure due to heart valve diseases or familial diseases.

Considering all this information, it is clear that regular exercise is necessary to keep our heart healthy and this should be made a lifestyle from an early age.

Is it true that people who exercise regularly are less likely to have heart disease?

Scientific studies suggest that approximately 40% of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases are associated with insufficient physical activity. This sedentary lifestyle brought about by modern life increases the possibility of cardiovascular disease development through obesity, stress, and increased blood pressure in connection with each other or attracts them to earlier ages. Other risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, and increased blood cholesterol associated with a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to this. The risk of coronary heart disease is doubled in a person who lives sedentary compared to a physically active person who does sports. It is thought that even with light exercises such as regular walking, deaths due to coronary artery disease can be reduced by 14%. Currently, scientific guidelines recommend moderately intense physical exercise, such as brisk walking, at least 4 days a week, preferably at least 30 minutes each day. However, studies show that only about 25-30% of adults in Europe and the United States do regular sports at this level. This level is probably even lower for Turkey.

Is it possible to combat stress by doing sports?

Scientific studies show that sports contribute to psychological improvement and relaxation both in the short term and in the long term. These effects; positive improvement in mood, increase in self-confidence and self-care, decrease in feelings such as depression and anxiety, decrease in tension, increase in attention and clear thinking capacity, increased sense of energy, positive approach in daily work, increase in enjoyment of life with exercise and social relationships, decrease in insomnia, It can be summarized as an increase in sleep quality and a decrease in various stress indicators as a result. These psychological effects are valid for all ages and for both sexes. Therefore, regular exercise has a very important place in the fight against stress, which is thought to pose a risk for many diseases, including heart diseases.

Which is the ideal sports ground for a healthy heart?

Currently, scientific guidelines recommend moderately intense physical exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming for at least 30 minutes every day, preferably at least 4 days a week, for a healthy lifestyle, including heart patients. In addition, stretching exercises are recommended 2 days a week. However, studies show that only about 25-30% of adults in Europe and the United States do regular sports at this level. This level is probably even lower for Turkey. Even short 10-minute exercises at more irregular intervals throughout the day have been shown to be beneficial. After all, even simple exercises such as housework are beneficial for a completely sedentary lifestyle. After providing an adequate level of exercise, the sport or form of exercise is of little importance. This may change according to preference, sports that are done as a group and that have a social content or that are enjoyed may be more beneficial in terms of regular continuation. It should be taken into account that degenerative joint diseases, which we call osteoarthritis that occur with advancing age, may increase complaints in the short term, and exercises that reduce the load on the joints such as swimming should be preferred in these patients. Again, attention should be paid to sports injuries, especially in patients with osteoporosis, in terms of bone fractures due to trauma.

Can heavy sports damage the heart?

Intense exercises at the level of professional athletes may cause temporary changes in the heart, but even regular intense exercise is not known to have any harmful effects on the heart. However, very intense and irregular exercise or physical activity that begins suddenly after a long period of inactivity can be harmful. In this case, there are studies that show an increased risk of heart attack in adults after intense exercise. Therefore, it is recommended that those who have been sedentary for a long time and may have heart disease, especially the elderly, should undergo a cardiac examination before starting regular sports, increase the level of exercise slowly, and avoid excessive exercise. Apart from these, although rare, there may be cardiac arrhythmias and death due to familial diseases in children and young people and valvular and vascular diseases in adults. In this respect, it is appropriate for young people and children to undergo general control before starting sports that require intense physical effort.

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