Lack of exercise is a risk factor for developing
coronary artery disease (CAD). Lack of physical activity can indirectly increase the risk of
CAD, because it also increases the risk for
high blood pressure. Regular physical activity can
help reduce your risk of CAD by helping you control
cholesterol and blood pressure, regulate blood sugar
(important for people with diabetes), and lose weight or stay at a healthy
Regular exercise is essential not only for preventing CAD
but also for improving your overall heart health.
With the U.S. unemployment rate high, most people today are happy just to have a job and a regular paycheck. Although it may be preferable to be gainfully employed, work ranks at the top of most people’s list of major sources of stress.
In fact, the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America Survey found that work is cited as one of the top three contributors to stress, second only to worries about money and followed closely by fear about the state of the economy.
It also is possible that regular physical activity increases the
number of smaller blood vessels that connect different coronary arteries. If
one of the major coronary arteries is suddenly blocked, these collateral blood
vessels serve as an alternate route to supply blood to the portion of the heart
muscle threatened by a heart attack.
Exercise doesn't have to be difficult. Any
activity that raises your heart rate can be considered exercise, such as
walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, or dancing.
Try to do
moderate exercise at least 2½ hours a week. One way to
do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. Or try to do
vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week.2 One way to
do this is to be active 25 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. It's fine to
be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. You can
choose to do one or both types of activity. But if you have never exercised,
even 5 minutes of walking each day is a good start. Add more as you are
Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program if
you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease; have been sedentary for a
long period of time; or have other heart, lung, or metabolic diseases, such as
Report any symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of
breath, to your doctor immediately.
Redberg RF, et al. (2009). ACCF/AHA 2009 Performance measures for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures. Circulation, 120(13): 1296–1336.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
April 6, 2012
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this