Be good to your heart and exercise regularly

Fitness and heart health panel topic next week

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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 No. 1 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 the 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 do we money, 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 and others in keeping a healthy base of the 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 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.

Here are a few benefits of exercise:

• Remain and live free of heart disease longer;

• Reduce risk of diabetes, hypertension and their complications;

• Remain free of injury;

• Maintain a sense of well-being and have greater energy;

• Help older adults remain independent longer.

Call the marketing and development office at Wilson Medical Center to attend a panel discussion on “Being Fit and Heart Healthy: Exercise Yet Be Joint Happy” with me and my colleagues from pulmonology and orthopedics. The event is Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Wilson Country Club. RSVP by Monday 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.