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The Exercise Equation

The Exercise Equation

Health care providers and fitness experts often call exercise “the wonder drug” because of its wide-ranging effects on health. Yes, it helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves mood, and boosts energy levels. It also helps ward off metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and falls. But one of its greatest and most immediate benefits is its impact on circulation.

As you exercise, the blood vessels in your muscles dilate, boosting blood flow. When you work out regularly, your muscles become more efficient at using blood, your heart gets stronger, and your blood vessels become more limber so blood flows more easily. This increased blood flow delivers more oxygenated blood to the working muscle.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to get these benefits. Cardiologists recommend an average of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day, which has been shown to increase life expectancy by three-and-a-half years. While you are exercising, aim to work your heart to about 50 to 70 percent of its maximum rate. Even this fairly conservative amount of exercise is powerful enough to combat other high-risk factors. In fact, a study out of the Cooper Institute in Dallas found that moderately fit people had half the death rates of those who were sedentary.

Aerobics for Better Circulation

Aerobic exercise develops the heart muscle much the way weight training develops other muscles. The heart grows thicker and stronger while the inside of the heart grows bigger, allowing more blood to be pumped with each heartbeat. Aerobic activity also improves the condition of your blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide.

A study presented at the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress reported that older diabetics could improve artery health by an impressive 15 to 20 percent in just three months with aerobic exercise. Here’s how: When you exercise, you force more blood through your blood vessels. This elevated blood flow stresses the walls of the vessels as it passes over them, reducing inflammation in a way similar to high doses of steroids.

Walk Away from Circulatory Problems

Walking is one of the most popular ways to exercise. It’s also an excellent way to improve circulation. What’s more, walking doesn’t require any special equipment and carries the least risk of injury of any form of exercise. Best of all, you can do it anywhere, whether you live in the city, the country, or somewhere in between. If you’re not used to exercising, start slowly, limiting yourself to a 10-minute walk. As your stamina increases, you should be able to increase your walking time to 45 minutes or more.
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