woman running long distance race

We all know how important exercise is for our mental and physical health but we wanted to look more closely at why working out is good for the heart. 

Many of us will be familiar with the short-term benefits of exercise: the runners high or the half-inch off the waist, but there’s more to staying active than just what you experience during and soon after exercising. 

Maybe you use exercise as a means to eat that pizza or drink those beers at the weekend without feeling guilty, but what are some of the more cumulative effects of working out over a longer period?  What are the long term benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system? 

What are the long term benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system?

  • Reduces resting heart rate
  • Improves stroke volume
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves blood flow

You can’t overstate how important good heart health is.  Without it, your quality of life rapidly deteriorates and you’re left breathless, weak and in agony. The problem with the heart is that this important muscle sits in your chest behind your ribs where you can’t see it.

Any damage or emerging problems can go unnoticed or ignored for years until symptoms start manifesting and you go to your GP. 

Exercising regularly has some important long term benefits on the cardiovascular system in particular. 

Exercise Lowers Your Resting Heart Rate

People with high levels of cardiovascular fitness will have a lower resting heart rate. This is important because a lower heart rate means that your heart doesn’t have to beat so often in order to pump blood around the body. This means less stress on the organ itself and on the artery walls.

It means your heart is working more efficiently. It’s easy to forget that the heart is a muscle that needs to be exercised.  According to John Hopkins Medicine, exercise works like ‘beta-blocker’ medication by slowing the heart rate down and this can reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Harvard Medical School writes that having a slower heart rate could translate into a longer life.  It goes on to say ‘resting heart rate seems to be a common denominator for various types of heart disease.’

Staying Fit Increases the Heart’s Stroke Volume

Stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped with each beat of your heart . When you exercise regularly more blood is pumped out of the heart and into the body. Much the same as resting heart rate, increased stroke volume makes the heart more efficient. 

More blood means more blood flow and that’s another way of boosting your long-term heath. Fatty deposits can build up in some of the smaller blood vessels around the heart but a greater blood flow means better circulation and less chance for these deposits to form. 

Exercise Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Take a trip to your GP and blood pressure is one of the first things they’ll measure.  It’s the ‘measure of force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body,’ but it’s often referred to as a warning sign of a stroke or heart attack.  We all know it’s important to keep our blood pressure in check 

The Mayo Clinic describes the connection between exercise and blood pressure as ‘regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure’.

It goes on to say that regular exercises means some people can come off blood pressure medication entirely.  

For real long-term benefits however, it can take between 1 and 3 months to start seeing the benefits of exercise on blood pressure and the effects only last so long as the exercise does. 

Exercise Increases the Good Cholesterol

Exercise raises HDL cholesterol which is the good kind: the one that keeps your heart healthier.  It also helps lower LDL cholesterol which is the bad kind.  Excess cholesterol can clog up the arteries making it difficult for blood to flow and makes the heart work harder and less efficiently, increasing the risk of heart disease. 

We wanted to take a quick look at some of the long term benefits of exercise because it’s often too easy to focus on the short and mid-term benefits but what we do today can have a big impact on what happens further down the line.  It’s not just important that we live longer but that we live well for as long as possible.  For most people, exercise offers real long-term benefits for heart health. 

This meeting point between exercise and long-term health is one reason why Energym began designing and developing exercise bikes that generate electricity.  Sustainable gym equipment not only encourages people to exercise but it can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to poor air quality (which has also been linked to poor respiratory and cardiovascular health) and which are accelerating global warming across the globe. 

Exercise has a huge range of benefits both for individual health and for global health, too.  If you’d like to find out more about our technology and how it can power buildings —  you can watch our video.