LET'S TALK! About Your Health

December 2012
Exercise and Your Health
Let's Talk HeartWhy is it that something as simple and fundamental as exercise is so difficult for us to do? Despite an abundance of evidence that exercise has significant health benefits, we are more likely to sit on our couches than go out for a walk.

Exercise and Your Health

Special Feature by Steven T. Forman, MD, FACC, FSCAI, RVT

Why is it that something as simple and fundamental as exercise is so difficult for us to do? Despite an abundance of evidence that exercise has significant health benefits, we are more likely to sit on our couches than go out for a walk. According to the most recent data from the CDC for the year 2010, less than 20% of people 45 - 64 years old and only 10% of people 65 years and older met both the aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines. In addition, approximately 50% of people 45-64 years old and 65% of people 65 years and older met neither guideline.

The health benefits of exercise extend to all facets of our lives, including physical well being, mood, brain function and longevity. Many of the chronic diseases that plague our society, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease can be reduced substantially with exercise.

Regular exercise can reduce blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides and raise the good HDL cholesterol, all of which reduce the risk of heart disease. Exercise has been shown to reduce depression and improve cognitive function. Regular weight bearing exercise can improve bone health and reduce the risk of fractures. Lastly, regular exercise can prolong your life. Clearly, regular exercise can improve the quality and quantity of your life.

Current recommendations, as stated in the U.S. Department of Health Physical Activity Guidelines, are for all adults to avoid inactivity. Adults should do at least 2 ½ hours of exercise a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week or a combination of the two. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week. It is important to remember that the health benefits begin with even the lightest activity. Any physical activity is better than none. Exercise can be performed by everyone and anyone with proper supervision and restrictions.

There are some caveats before everyone puts this article down and runs out the door to start exercising. Assuming you have spent the last few years on the couch it is prudent to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Those people with increased risk, including diabetics and heart patients, should have a stress test. Once the exercise begins, start slowly. A gradual increase in the intensity and duration of exercise is the safest way to go. Ultimately, there is no limit, there are numerous stories of heart bypass patients running marathons. So make a plan today and exercise yourself to better health!



About the author: Dr. Forman is board certified internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology and venous and lymphatic medicine. Dr. Forman is managing partner of Los Alamitos Cardiovascular and director of Performance Vein Institute of Los Alamitos. As of January of 2014, Dr. Forman assumes the Chief of Staff post at Los Alamitos Medical Center. Learn more about Dr. Forman.

Let's Talk! Library

In addition to frequently participating as guest lecturers throughout the community, our cardiologists write articles for local and regional print and e-publications as well as for this website. We regulary update the list below with new health-related content, so check back often.


What's the Deal with Sugar and My Heart?/ Dr. Bret Witter/ March 2015

arrow FEATURED! Healthy Resolutions: The KIS(S) IT! Approach/ Dr. Stuart Fischer/ August 2014

Heart Attack / Dr. Robert S. Lee / January 2014

arrow FEATURED! Stroke Prevention / Dr. Bret A. Witter / May 2013

Women and Heart Disease / Dr. Steven T. Forman / February 2013

Caring for a Family Member with Heart Failure / Dr. Bret A. Witter / August 2013

Finding the Fountain of Youth / Dr. Steven T. Forman / September 2012

Exercise and Your Health / Dr. Steven T. Forman / December 2012

Making the Most Out of Your Office Visit / Staff / March 2012