How Exercise Can Help Someone with Cardiovascular Disease

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 1.2 million Australian adults have Cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is an umbrella term for a range of different heart conditions that involve narrowing of the blood vessels, blockages or structural abnormalities. Examples of these conditions include coronary artery disease, heart failure and congenital heart diseases. These conditions can sometimes lead to a heart attack, stroke, chest pain (angina) or an irregular rhythm. 

There are numerous risk factors that can cause CVD, with many of these being preventable. For example, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. The good news is that these variables can be improved through lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and increasing your physical activity levels. This is where Dietitians and Exercise Physiologists come in!

Whilst it may not be possible to completely cure some types of CVD, exercise can improve an individual’s quality of life, functional capacity and reduce the burden of disease. Due to the high-risk nature of exercising with CVD, it is important to be under the guidance of an Exercise Physiologist. An Exercise Physiologist will be able to tailor a treatment program to you depending on your specific condition. This will determine the type and frequency of exercise recommended. If an individual has risk factors such as high blood pressure that puts them at risk of developing CVD, an Exercise Physiologist can also work to prevent or delay the onset of CVD. The primary type of exercise recommended for an individual with CVD is cardiorespiratory training. This is the type of training that gets your heart rate up and gets you huffing and puffing! This can be performed in a variety of ways depending on your abilities and interest. For example, it may be a long, fast-paced walk in the park/on a treadmill, a 30-minute moderate-intensity bike ride or it could be interval training. To achieve optimal improvements in health, resistance-based exercises should also be included up to 3 days per week. 

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