Keeping muscles well-toned and fit is crucial to overall health and wellness.
The most important muscle to protect and care for is the heart. All of the other muscles in the body require oxygen and sugar to make fuel. The heart muscle works to deliver all the necessary components to the other muscles in the body.
Protecting the heart is not nearly as difficult as you may think. However, two things can be utterly destructive to this incredibly important muscle, especially with age. Losing fitness and packing on extra pounds are two things you want to avoid if you desire to keep heart disease at bay.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology included over 3,100 men and women in their 40’s living in Dallas. Study participants were followed for six years.
Those that maintained or improved their fitness levels were less likely to develop high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other known heart disease risk factors. In addition, those that held a steady weight were less likely as well to develop risk factors over those that gained weight.
Researchers found that both fitness and fatness were relative on their own to overall heart health. For instance, if someone lost weight but slipped a little in their fitness, they were less likely to develop as many risk factors as someone who gained weight and dropped in fitness.
Participants who kept up or improved their fitness levels during the six year study were up to 30% less likely to develop high blood pressure or high cholesterol versus those whose fitness levels dropped.
In addition, their risks of developing metabolic syndrome were up to 53% lower. For each one-pound increase in body fat, the risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol rose from 3 to 8%.
Study leaders say that while losing weight and improving fitness is the best thing for heart health, maintenance of both is a far more attainable goal for many, and has its benefits.
Application of Study Results
If you are active, stay active no matter if your weight climbs up a bit or not. If you are not active but in good condition otherwise, consider taking up some moderate exercise such as walking 10,000 steps per day. Don’t get frustrated if you are overweight and start an exercise program.
It may take a little while for the weight to start to come off. Patience and persistence will result in weight loss and improved overall fitness. Of course, you must combine your exercise with a healthy diet free from processed foods and full of health-promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthy fats, in order to have long term success.
-The Alternative Daily
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online February 6, 2012.