Cardiovascular diseases currently take many lives and are the leading cause of death globally. The Spanish Heart Foundation offers worrying figures, showing, according to analysis by the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE), that heart disease in our country is the leading cause of death, ahead of cancer and cardiorespiratory diseases. Contrary to conventional thought, it does not seem to be a problem specific to men. In fact, the data show a greater number of deaths in women due to this cause (https://fundaciondelcorazon.com/blog-impulso-vital/3264-las-cifras-de-la-enfermedad-cardiovascular.html).
There is a very clear association between the onset of these diseases and lifestyle, where an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise or physical activity and consumption of toxic substances such as tobacco have a significant influence. That is why changing these habits could prevent the onset of these diseases, as well as offering countless benefits related to health in general. Exercise and, in particular, reducing a sedentary lifestyle are key both in primary and secondary prevention (Alves et al, 2016).
Aerobic and strength training programs especially appear to be the most appropriate in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease or events, providing multisystem adaptations that optimize physiological function and cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as reducing cardiovascular risk factors, as exercises prevents weight gains and the onset of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and diabetes (Ozemek et al, 2018).
From the viewpoint of metabolism, related to the cardiovascular disease risk factors, we find that physical activity reduces resistance to insulin and improves the collection of glucose by muscle, providing greater control of glucose in the blood and preventing the development of type II diabetes and subsequent heart disease. Exercise also causes an increase in cholesterol serum concentration together with high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which reduces the chance of suffering from arteriosclerosis, improves the distribution of fat, leading to decreased inflammation of the systems with better vascular health, in addition to maintaining proper functioning of telomeres, producing greater vessel repair capabilities.
This entire beneficial adaptation process appears with sufficient doses to cause a stimulus that generates it. If we do it progressively at a vigorous intensity, we will achieve greater results. However, in sedentary people, or those just starting to exercise, they respond favorably at low doses, which enables us to start progressively, adapting the load to each subject.
Despite all of the above related to the benefits of a physical exercise regime, we find that many people are unable to stick with it. That is why adopting active lifestyles through increased physical activity in the daily routine (such as walking, climbing stairs, etc.) could be the right strategy for improving cardiovascular health initially. In fact, not only should we get used to a structured exercise regime, but we must also avoid spending time in sedentary activities such as sitting in front of the TV or other types of screens, as sitting for long hours leads to an increase in cardiovascular risk.
People with active jobs are less likely to suffer from adverse events due to coronary disease (Paffenbarger et al, 2001). As we increase the amount of energy consumed or the metabolic equivalent of task (MET), the ratio of death declines. Individuals who participate in at 150 minutes of moderate exercise 15% and 20% less risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which corresponds to the current minimum recommendations for exercise from the WHO and the ACSM.
In general, our goal, if we are to increase and/or maintain our cardiovascular health, must be first to reduce sedentary activities, as they are associated independently with the incidence of cardiovascular risk factors and heart diseases, and include a structured exercise regime designed by specialists based on a cardiovascular stress test and strength, with sufficient stimulus to make the positive changes mentioned above.