Features December 2010 Issue

Exercise Plays a Key Role in Treating Heart Disease

Studies show that regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular risk factors such as weight, arterial health, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Physical activity, and plenty of it, is a major component of cardiac rehabilitation because exercise has been shown to help people manage heart disease and improve their risk factors. Several recent studies have underscored the many ways regular exercise boosts heart health. For example, a study presented at the European Society of 2010 Cardiology Congress in September, found that interval training on a treadmill—a program where patients alternate walking at a speed that boosts their heart rate up to 90 to 95 percent of capacity with slower periods of walking at 50 to 70 percent of peak heart rate—improved their peak oxygen consumption at a much greater rate than those who walked at 70 to 75 percent of their peak heart rate for the entire workout. Oxygen consumption refers to the rate at which tissues in the body uses oxygen.

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