essential for the health of your arteries
Newswise ó To keep your arteries
healthy, a regular exercise program is essential, reports the June
issue of the Harvard Menís Health Watch.
Arterial diseases are responsible
for heart attacks and strokes, the first and third leading causes of
death in American men. The culprit is atherosclerosis, in which
cholesterol-laden plaques build up in the arteries. As the plaques
enlarge, the arteries narrow, impairing blood flow. If a plaque
ruptures, a blood clot forms that can block the artery completely,
killing the cells that depend on that arteryís blood supply. If this
happens in an artery leading to the heart or brain, the result is a
heart attack or stroke.
Exercise helps prevent
atherosclerosis in a number of ways. It keeps arteries healthy by
lowering bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol. And it
reduces other risk factors for atherosclerosis and blood clots, such
as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stress.
Regular exercise also helps
arteries by boosting the production of nitric oxide by the cells
lining the arteries, which helps circulation. And new research in
mice suggests that exercise stimulates the bone marrow to produce
new cells for the arterial lining, which replace aging cells and
repair damaged arteries.
Even in healthy people who are
free of atherosclerosis, age takes its toll on arteries. As you age,
arteries become stiffer, stickier, and narrower. But scientists in
Italy found that in people who exercised regularly, age had a much
smaller effect on arteries.
ďYou donít have to be a triathlete
to help your arteries stay young. Just two to three miles of brisk
walking nearly every day will help,Ē says Dr. Harvey Simon, editor
in chief of the Harvard Menís Health Watch.