The vascular system of the human body comprises more than 60,000 miles of veins and arteries. The way the human vascular system works is that the arteries carry oxygen rich blood from the heart to the body’s organs and limbs while veins transport that same blood back to the heart. It takes less than 20 seconds for all of your blood to make a complete loop from your heart to your organs and back again. Vascular health is essential to the prevention of many different diseases and chronic conditions. To maintain the health of your vascular system, you must eat right, not smoke, exercise, and, very importantly, manage stress.
Vascular diseases range from peripheral arterial disease (PAD) to aneurysms, both aortic, brain and elsewhere in your vascular system, coronary or heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, pulmonary embolism and stroke. In fact, by 2024, with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, researchers believe the incidence of vascular disease, “ will take the lives of over 2 million Americans each year.”
What can you do?
According to a special report by Time magazine Secrets to a Healthy Heart, many heart attacks are caused by a spike in anger. It’s not exactly clear how anger may trigger a heart attack, but a study published in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, speculated that, “the stress may stimulate activity in the heart like increased heart rate and blood pressure, blood vessel constriction, a plaque rupture, and clotting, which could eventually lead to a heart attack.”
Exercise recommendations for heart and vascular health throughout your lifespan:
According to the AHA, a person should undertake at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic intensity exercise five days a week for a total of 150 minutes a week; or at a minimum, at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days per week for a weekly total of 75 minutes of intense vascular and cardiovascular activity.
In addition to the cardio/ aerobic exercise, a person needs moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening exercise at least two days a week. This means some form of physical activity most days is best for your vascular and heart health.
Recommended exercises that benefit your vascular system and heart include walking, running, swimming or biking, and any aerobics-based program. Surprisingly, walking appears to be an activity that many people adopt and enjoy. “The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise,” the AHA says. “A walking program is flexible and has high success rates because people can stick with it.
Sticking with it seems to pay off. Salhuddin Gadson, a 28-year-old risk management director, in Leesburg, Virginia, said in an interview, that he has long known the benefits of fitness, and he is in truly remarkable shape. “Initially, what motivated me was competing generally,” he said.
Gadson has been an athlete since the age of 13. He also played high school and college football. “I started working out in high school to be the best athlete I could be,” he said.
Staying in top physical condition helped Gadson land a slot on the Bridgewater College Football Team. He later played for and obtained his degree from Delaware State University.
I was in my best shape when I played college football,” he said. And Gadson takes exercise very seriously. “I make sure to exercise regularly to stay in shape,” he said. “I don’t really have time for the gym, but I regularly do calisthenics, pushups, jump-rope and jumping jacks.
Gadson observes he views his body as a machine. “If you look at your body as a premium machine, you’re going to take care of it. If you treat your body well, it will treat you well,” he said. And that seems to be true for maintaining your vascular and heart health.
Vascular disease can strike anywhere in the body. Vascular risks include stroke, peripheral artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid artery disease, arteriovenous malformation, critical limb ischemia, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins, according to Vascular Cures, a non-profit organization based in Redwood City, Calif.
That’s why it is so important to ensure all of your systems get the physical activity needed to stay healthy. For more information on maintaining vascular and heart health, check out the links below:
Ramona Fortanbary is a Northern Virginia-based freelance writer and editor. Ramona has served as a writer in many industries. She has been a newspaper editor, corporate communications manager and public affairs specialist and senior writer-editor for the U.S. government. Ramona has studied at Chapman and Harvard universities. Her interests include fitness, reading, traveling and volunteer work. Ramona currently serves on the board of Heart Marks Art Therapy, a 501(c)(3) organization offering free art therapy sessions to at risk segments of our society.
Main Photo Credit: VGstockstudio/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Maridav/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Undrey/shutterstock.com