Lack of exercise is a risk factor for developing coronary artery disease (CAD). Lack of physical activity can indirectly increase the risk of CAD, because it also increases the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of CAD by helping you control cholesterol and blood pressure, regulate blood sugar (important for people with diabetes), and lose weight or stay at a healthy weight.1
Regular exercise is essential not only for preventing CAD but also for improving your overall heart health.
It also is possible that regular physical activity increases the number of smaller blood vessels that connect different coronary arteries. If one of the major coronary arteries is suddenly blocked, these collateral blood vessels serve as an alternate route to supply blood to the portion of the heart muscle threatened by a heart attack.
- Redberg RF, et al. (2009). ACCF/AHA 2009 Performance measures for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures. Circulation, 120(13): 1296–1336.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf.
Last Revised: April 6, 2012
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