March 20, 2016

Cardiovascular Health and the Importance of Exercise

As many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributed to a lack of regular physical activity. In the United States, the population in general remains rather sedentary; less than one-third of Americans meets the minimal recommendations for activity as outlined by the CDC, ACSM, and AHA expert panels.

American Heart Association Recommendations:

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150.  This can be broken into segments of 15 & 15 minute sequences or 10/10/10 minute stretches
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activityAND
  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

  • An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week

imagesTo an avid fitness enthusiast these recommendations seem quite simple. 30 minutes a day, I usually have that done before noon. So, why is it that even with an understanding of what needs to get done, people simply are not doing it? My presumption is based on the following factors:

1) Time
2) Costs associated with exercising
3) Access to fitness related facilities
4) Excusing of their sedentary lifestyle
5) Lack of knowledge on the benefits and necessity of regular exercise

Benefits of Regular Exercise on Cardiovascular Risk Factors:download
• Increase in exercise tolerance
• Reduction in body weight
• Reduction in blood pressure
• Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
• Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
• Increase in insulin sensitivity

Physiological benefits:
• Improvements in muscular function and strength
• Improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen (maximal oxygen consumption or aerobic capacity)
• Improves the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise or hormones, consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles during exercise

How to get started:
Have a conversation with yourself and identify if you are mentally, physically and emotionally willing to put in the time necessary to exercise on a consistent basis. When you have conquered the hurdles above, it is time to remove the excuses and start on a path towards results. Then, consult your physician and make sure you are physically ready to exercise. Next, create a list of “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound). Finally, stand up and off of the couch, place one foot outside that front door and you are well on your way.



  • Myers, Jonathan PhD, Cardiology 111-C, VA Palo Alto Health Care System
  • American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription
  • American Heart Association


Cardiovascular Health & Exercise
About Geoff Rubin