Q: There’s a history of cardiovascular disease in my family. Apart from eating healthy and watching my cholesterol, what can I do to lower my risk?
A: When it comes to preventing heart disease and stroke, a little exercise can go a long way. Squeezing 30 minutes of physical activity into your day–whether all at once or broken into 10-minute bursts–can considerably reduce your risk. Working out regularly also helps guard against diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, all known to damage heart health.
Two recent studies have shed new light on how exercise helps your heart. First, University of Iowa researchers showed in an animal study that endorphins and other feel-good chemicals released by the body during exercise can protect against heart attacks. Next, a group of scientists from the Netherlands discovered that getting active at least once a week the cut risk of blood clots.
Exercise appeared to give women an even greater defense against blood clots, a common cause of stroke.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.