Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease and strokes by strengthening the heart muscle and reducing blood pressure and increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels, lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and improving circulation blood.
There is a lot of evidence showing that regular exercise reduces the risk of stroke (stroke). Physical activity, under medical supervision, has a favorable effect on reducing blood pressure, body weight, and blood clotting, in addition to increasing cardiorespiratory capacity, reducing blood pressure in the body at rest, which reduces the risk of stroke. Another important aspect of physical activity after a stroke is the improvement in the quality of life of these patients.
The evaluation of the benefits of a physical exercise program for people who had a stroke longer than six months showed that in addition to the improvement in functional limitations such as resistance, balance, and mobility, an evolution in the quality of life was also observed in the months’ initials of rehabilitation. “Currently, we already know that physical exercise reduces the risk of a person having a stroke. Studies show that just one individual performs thirty minutes of daily activities of moderate intensity for the risk of having a stroke to be reduced”, explains the sports physiologist at HCor (Hospital do Coração), Diego Leite de Barros.
Physical activity: a strong ally in stroke prevention
Physical activity, in addition to providing a feeling of well-being, improves self-esteem, reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms, and benefits the body. If practiced in a correct and disciplined manner, exercise reduces body fat. It increases muscle mass, in addition to lowering blood sugar levels and improving lung capacity, increasing the use of oxygen consumption – consequently, the heart muscle becomes makes it stronger.
“Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of being affected by some disease, including stroke. Physical activity prevents stroke because it reduces the risk factors that can trigger the disease, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes”, says the physiologist.
Those who practice regular exercise avoid smoking, improve the control of diabetes and high blood pressure, control high levels of triglycerides, cause an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and avoid foods that cause obesity and improve the good mood. “The certainty that little or nothing will happen depends basically on this control, on the regularity of good habits and, without a doubt, on the genetic inheritance of each one. But if there is full attention to health, stroke can be avoided”, explains the HCor sports physiologist.
Stroke: the importance of controlling risk factors
The most common causes of a stroke are high blood pressure, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, and, finally, emotional stress. But in whom and when can it occur? “Although the risk of stroke is slightly higher in males, there is no doubt that the presence of these risk factors, including in women, and not properly controlled, facilitate the triggering of a myocardial infarction or a stroke, which can have two ways to present: ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke”, warns Dr. Eli Faria Evaristo, a neurologist at HCor.
According to the neurologist at HCor, ischemic stroke (most common) is when an artery in the neck or brain is blocked by a thrombus (clot) or fatty plaque, causing a lack of blood supply to a part of the brain. “The hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, occurs when an artery ruptures in the place where its cap is thinner (its walls are weaker) or where there is a local dilation (as if it were a thin bubble, known as an aneurysm)”, he points out.
Physical inactivity and low level of physical fitness have been considered risk factors for premature mortality as important as smoking, dyslipidemia, and arterial hypertension (1). Epidemiological studies have shown a strong relationship between physical inactivity and the presence of cardiovascular risk factors such as arterial hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and obesity (2-5). On the other hand, regular physical activity has been recommended to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, and other chronic diseases (6-16).
Metabolic syndrome – also known as syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, deadly quartet, or plus metabolic syndrome – is characterized by the grouping of cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance/type 2 diabetes, central obesity, and dyslipidemia (high LDL-cholesterol, high triglycerides and low HDL-cholesterol). An epidemiological and clinical study has shown that regular physical activity is an important factor in preventing and treating this disease (2-5,11-16).
This review aims to demonstrate the role of regular physical activity in the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome and describe the amount and modality of exercise required for this purpose.
EXERCISE AND OBESITY
In recent decades there has been a rapid and growing increase in obese people, making obesity a public health problem. This disease has been classified as a primarily high energy intake disorder. However, evidence suggests that a large part of obesity is due to low energy expenditure than high food consumption. At the same time, physical inactivity in modern life seems to be the major etiological factor for the growth of this disease in industrialized societies (13).
Epidemiological and cohort studies have shown a strong association between obesity and physical inactivity (3-5), as well as an inverse association between physical activity and body mass index (BMI), has been reported.1, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)two and waist circumference (2,3,5). These studies demonstrate that the benefits of physical activity on obesity can be achieved with low, moderate, or high intensity, indicating that the maintenance of an active lifestyle, regardless of which activity is practiced, can prevent the development of this disease.
To treat obesity, the energy expenditure must be greater than the daily energy consumption, which makes us think that a simple reduction in food through a diet is enough. However, this is not that simple; it has been demonstrated that lifestyle changes, through an increase in the amount of physical activity practiced and dietary re-education, are the best treatment (16).
Daily energy expenditure comprises three major components: resting metabolic rate (RMR), thermic effect of physical activity, and thermic effect of food (ETC). The TMR, the energy cost to keep systems functioning at rest, is the largest component of daily energy expenditure (60 to 80% of the total). The treatment of obesity only through caloric restriction by the diet leads to a decrease in TMR (through a decrease in muscle mass), ETC, which leads to a reduction or maintenance in weight loss and a tendency to return to the initial weight, despite the continuous caloric restriction, contributing to the poor long-term effectiveness of this intervention (13). However, combining caloric restriction with exercise helps maintain TMR, improving the results of long-term weight loss programs. This occurs because physical exercise increases the TMR after its completion by increasing the oxidation of substrates, levels of catecholamines, and stimulation of protein synthesis (17,18). This exercise effect on RMR can last from three hours to three days, depending on the exercise’s type, intensity, and duration (19,20).
Another reason that encourages the inclusion of physical activity in weight reduction programs is that physical activity is the most variable effect of daily energy expenditure, so most people can generate metabolic rates that are ten times higher than their values at rest during exercises with the participation of large muscle groups, such as brisk walking, running and swimming (13,20). Athletes who train for three to four hours a day can increase their daily energy expenditure by almost 100% (20). Under normal circumstances, physical activity accounts for between 15 and 30% of daily energy expenditure