The Risks and Benefits of Exercise for Your Heart

We all know that exercise is good for us, but pushing yourself too hard can be harmful, especially if you have a heart condition.

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Cardiac Benefits of Exercise

Regular exercise can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and has the following benefits:

  • Strengthens your heart muscle and improves lung function so your body gets a better supply of oxygen and nutrients
  • Improves the level of “good” cholesterol in your blood
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces triglycerides and C-reactive protein in your blood
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Improves your mood and relieves stress, which can affect cardiac symptoms such as arrhythmias

Cardiac Risks of Exercise

Although physical activity is generally good for your heart, it could cause serious or even fatal symptoms if you have certain kinds of heart problem. You might not even be aware that you’re affected by these conditions until you experience symptoms, so it is important to check with a doctor or have sports screening before putting too much strain on your heart.

  • Congenital or inherited heart conditions: the symptoms of conditions like myocarditis and congenital heart defects can be triggered by exercise and some such as hypertrophy cardiomyopathy can get worse if you lead a very active lifestyle. Congenital heart problems are the biggest risk for younger athletes who are often unaware that they have these conditions until they experience symptoms while exercising or undergo sports screening in London.
  • Coronary heart disease: narrowed arteries might not be able to supply your heart with enough blood when it is working hard during exercise, which could trigger a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the main risk for older athletes, particularly if they are overweight or unused to physical activity.
  • Arrhythmias: problems with the rhythm of your heartbeat may only show up when you are exercising.

The best way to minimise these risks while enjoying the benefits of exercise for your heart is to talk to an expert. If you are new to exercise or you have any health problems, you should ask your doctor for advice on exercising safely. You should also consider visiting the Cardiac Screen clinic in London for sports screening, which can detect problems such as congenital heart conditions or coronary heart disease that could affect you while you exercise.