Running away from a heart attack

Running away from a heart attack

Monday, October 19, 2020

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THE Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Heart Foundation of Jamaica have consistently urged Jamaicans to adopt healthy lifestyle habits to prevent cardiovascular disease — one of the non-communicable diseases which accounts for some 35 per cent of all deaths in Jamaicans over five years old.

One of the most serious cardiac conditions is sudden cardiac arrest, where there is sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. This is caused by the disruption of the pumping action of the heart, leading to loss of blood flow to other parts of the body.

This poses a grave threat, and there are simple lifestyle habits that people can adopt to reduce onset of the condition.

These include a healthy diet, and that people engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week for overall cardiovascular health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, and one of the best of these activities is running, which has a host of benefits for the entire body.

Overall, WHO says strong evidence demonstrates that compared to less active adult men and women, individuals who are more active have lower rates of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer and depression. They are also likely to have less risk of a hip or vertebral fracture; exhibit a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness; and are more likely to achieve weight maintenance.

Here are some other reasons why you should be running.

1. Some studies have shown that vigorous exercises such as running seem to give more benefits than moderate exercise. One study showed that individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week had significant increase in their good cholesterol, and also had significant reduction in body fat, plus a reduction in risk for developing heart disease compared to individuals who did less than 10 miles per week.

2. Running improves aerobic fitness. It does this by increasing the activity of enzymes and hormones that stimulate the muscles and heart and makes them more effective.

3. Running burns twice the number of calories as regular exercise, which is good for weight loss.

4. Exercises like running trigger lasting changes in our 'feel-good' neurotransmitters — serotonin and norepinephrine. They not only help us to feel good during our exercise sessions, but after as well. Some scientific research even show where as little as five minutes of these exercises can promote the release of anti-stress hormones.

5. Another study — done over 21 years — which explored reduced disability and mortality among ageing runners, found that vigorous exercise (running) at middle and older ages is associated with reduced disability in later life and a notable survival advantage — in essence, running can make you live longer.

6. Running helps you lose belly fat. Another study, analysing whether diet-weight relationships were reduced by vigorous exercise, found that running significantly reduced waist and chest circumferences in men, and hip circumference in women.

7. Running ups your intake of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency could be linked to several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight, and what better way to get some sun than to go running?

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