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Sunday, September 20, 2020
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TAKING THE PLUNGE FOR YOUR HEART

Valentine's Day might all be about getting your heart pumping but

the truth is the slower your heart beats the healthier it is!

The heart of someone who exercises regularly beats 13 million times less each year and when training in the water your heart rate decreases by 10 beats a minute. The maximum heart rate also decreases by 10 to 30 beats!

If you do not take part in any physical activity the chances of developing many diseases including high blood pressure, developing diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease being overweight or obese and psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and stress is increased.

The good news is that regular exercise can be hugely beneficial to your physical health plus, according to membership surveys conducted by Virgin Active South Africa, ‘Active makes you Happy'!

It is alarming that over a quarter of men and almost half of women In South African are physically inactive. Apart from the obvious physical benefits of exercise, the heart is also a muscle and needs to stay fit.

Why swimming? Ross Johnson from Swim4Life at Virgin Active says swimming is a wonderful exercise because it:

• Uses almost all the major muscle groups and places a vigorous demand on your heart and lungs.
• Develops muscle strength and endurance while improving posture and flexibility.
• Is especially useful for people who are overweight, pregnant, or with leg or lower back problems.
• Is great sport for people of all ages and all proficiency levels.
• Provides most of the aerobic benefits that running does, with many of the benefits of resistance training thrown in.
• Does not put the strain on connective tissues that running, aerobics and some weight-training regimens do.
• Helps to control your weight, if you follow a healthy energy restricted diet, by decreasing body fat, increasing muscle mass and increasing metabolic rate without the effects of gravity on your joints
• Improves your mental health and mood as it relieves stress, tension, anger and depression as a result of ‘feel good' hormones being released during physical activity.
• Helps smokers quit – research indicates that smokers who exercise are twice as successful in their attempts to quit.
• Increases your quality of life – when you are physically inactive, your body slowly loses strength, stamina and ability to function optimally.

“Any regular physical activity together with a healthy lifestyle, eating correctly, reducing alcohol intake and not smoking will reduce bad cholesterol levels and improve your health,” says Dr Bernhardi from Virgin Active “Everyone benefits from physical activity: children, adolescents, young- and middle-aged adults, older adults as well as people who are disabled or who have disease limitations, especially in the pool.”

So how much is enough?
According to Virgin Active, adults should be doing a minimum of 40 minutes of moderate-intensity three to five times a week.

The Harvard Medical School says taking the plunge is the best thing for your heart.
A recent study from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas highlights the health benefits of swimming in respect of heart disease. One study compared blood pressure, cholesterol levels, maximum energy output, and other measures of cardiovascular health across nearly 46,000 male and female walkers, runners, swimmers, and couch potatoes. Swimmers and runners had the best numbers, followed fairly closely by walkers.

The second study looked at deaths among 40,547 men ages 20 to 90. Over an average of 13 years of follow-up, only 2% of the swimmers died, compared with 8% of runners, 9% of walkers, and 11% of non-exercisers.

Swimming is like a chill pill
There's also a relaxing, meditative side to swimming. It can come with letting your mind drift as, bathed by soothing water; you focus on your breathing and your movements. This stress-busting aspect could contribute to the cardiovascular benefits of swimming.
Best of all, swimming is the kind of activity you can do across the life span, and needn't give up late in life.”
Best of all, swimming is the kind of activity you can do across the life span, and needn't give up late in life.

Jump in, the water's fine
If you're already a swimmer, you've discovered the benefits of this activity. If you aren't, it's never too late to learn how to swim or to brush up on strokes you learned as a kid.
If you're a beginner, or are getting back into swimming, start slowly with five to 10 minutes of smooth lap swimming. As you get used to the exercise, you'll be able to swim for longer periods. Mix up your strokes — freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, whatever you can do. In addition to keeping your swimming routine fresh, the variety helps you work different muscles.

If doing laps isn't your thing, there are excellent aquatic alternatives to swimming. Try walking or running in water. Another option is water aerobics.

It's not your one and only
Weight bearing exercise is very important so although swimming can be great for the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles, it doesn't do much for the bones. That's why swimmers need to supplement their aquatic training with some weight-bearing exercise, like strength training, walking, dancing, stair climbing, or even gardening.

So starting this Valentine's Day – get your heart into shape - not just emotionally but keeping it beating to the rhythm of a healthy life.

Additional information – All about cholesterol

The good and bad cops of cholesterol
1. “Good” or HDL cholesterol (the full term is High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol) helps remove cholesterol from the arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the body's cells. Therefore it is cardio- protective
2. “Bad” or LDL cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol) is sometimes called “bad” because high levels are linked to build-up in your arteries.

A helpful way to remember the difference between HDL and LDL:
• You want HDL cholesterol levels to be HIGH (greater than 1.0 mmol / litre)
• You want LDL cholesterol levels to be LOW (less than 3.0 mmol/litre)

How arteriosclerosis progresses
Over time, the plaques get harder and narrow the arteries further, limiting blood flow and damaging the artery wall. The rougher the plaques make the artery lining, the more likely substances like platelets, which make the blood sticky and promote clotting, will also get trapped there.

Blockages in the arteries that supply the brain can lead to stroke, which damages the section of brain tissue deprived of oxygen-rich blood. Strokes are also sometimes fatal.

Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome by:
• Lowering your blood pressure by 4-9 mmHg which is almost as much as some antihypertensive medications
• Lowering cholesterol levels and improving ‘good' cholesterol levels
• Lowering blood sugar
• Improving blood circulation

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