Be good to your heart and exercise regularly

February 21, 2019

Sanjay Cherukuri, MD

Exercise is a proven way to reduce your risk of heart disease. There is strong evidence that suggests that incorporating regular exercise in your lifestyle can reduce your overall risk of developing heart disease, which is currently the number one cause of death in the United States.

In addition to preventing heart disease at the population level, exercise also helps reduce long-term risks once heart disease develops.

How does one maintain exercise levels and optimal body weight in an era where work-related need for physical activity is plummeting?

Some planning and focused effort is needed to reduce personal risk of heart disease and prevent other medical effects of unintended weight gain and obesity. In the future, as awareness increases I am hopeful that as a society we will move in a direction promoting activity and fitness as part of everyday life, promoting health, longevity and independent living.

Although it may be challenging, it would be very beneficial to study and understand key activity goals that correlate with physical wellness and incentivizing individuals with sustainable financial returns. Much like individuals getting paid by hour, amount of work etc., a similar analogy would be: A certain number of metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per year will result in a certain amount in financial reward. This of course, presents a multitude of challenges: what do we measure, how much money to assign, who pays for it, how do you detect fraud, etc. Indeed, we are a long way from a practical solution but a thought process such as this can benefit insurance companies, employers etc. in keeping a healthy base of population whose good health can have desirable outcomes.

While this is a long-term ambition, the immediate goal for all of us is to implement the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate level activity. This recommendation has been in place for far longer than most people are aware of. So, what prevents us from accomplishing it?

As I talk to patients in my practice, most are aware that ‘exercise is good’. However, how much and what is ‘exercise’ is not very clear.

I would like point out a few benefits of exercise.

  • Remain and live heart disease free longer
  • Reduce risk of diabetes, hypertension and their complications
  • Remain injury free
  • Maintain a sense of well-being and have greater energy
  • Helps older adults remain independent longer

Please call Marketing and Development at Wilson Medical Center to attend a panel discussion on titled “Being fit and heart healthy: Exercise yet be joint happy” along with my colleagues from Pulmonology and Orthopedics. The event is being held on Thursday, February 28 at 6 p.m. at the Wilson Country Club located at 4509 Country Club Drive. Kindly RSVP by February 25 at 252-399-8484.

Sanjay Cherukuri, M.D., is board certified in interventional cardiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. He practices at North Carolina Heart & Vascular in Wilson.