• You're all caught up!

How Lack of Exercise Causes Heart Disease

author image Riana Rohmann
Riana Rohmann has been working for the Marine Corps doing physical training and writing fitness articles since 2008. She holds personal trainer and advanced health and fitness specialist certifications from the American Council on Exercise and a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology from California State University-San Marcos.
How Lack of Exercise Causes Heart Disease
An overweight family is sitting on the couch. Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

There are many health problems that may lead to heart disease, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Many of these conditions can be prevented with proper lifestyle habits like exercise. Being sedentary is actually a risk factor for heart disease. It is important to adopt an exercise regimen before signs of heart disease occur and make exercise a lifestyle habit.


Heart disease is defined as any sort of condition that affects the heart's or blood vessels' ability to function properly. Sometimes heart disease can be due to congenital heart defects at birth, but often it’s due to lifestyle choices. Metabolic disorders such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome can block blood flow to and from the heart. High blood pressure and cholesterol contribute to blocking blood vessels, keeping vital oxygen from reaching the heart, which may result in heart attack or stroke.


It has been proven that lack of exercise, or a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to heart disease. Natural News reports that leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase risk of dying from heart disease by 52 percent for men and 28 percent for women. Lack of movement can basically be compared to letting your old car sit in the driveway and rust. It needs to be used to remain in good condition. Exercise increases circulation, helps clear arteries, lubricates joints and promotes well-being.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Aerobic cardiovascular exercise is best in heart disease prevention. It trains the heart to become more efficient and trains the body to better utilize oxygen. Cardiovascular exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces total cholesterol, two problems associated with heart disease. It increases insulin sensitivity, helping to prevent diabetes and other metabolic conditions. Obesity is often a precursor to heart disease, and cardiovascular exercise is the best method for weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Methods of exercise include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming.

Resistance Training

Strength training increases muscular strength and endurance, improves posture and allows you to do activities of daily living with ease. Increasing your muscle mass increases your resting metabolism and circulation, which helps prevent weight gain. Being sedentary causes muscles to atrophy and often makes movement difficult or painful. That lack of movement can increase risk of heart disease. ACSM recommends engaging in two to three days per week of resistance training, working each major muscle group and completing eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.


Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you suspect you have heart disease. Stop exercise immediately if you feel chest pains, weakness, dizziness or muscle pains. Do not begin exercise without speaking to a doctor if you have a history of uncontrolled angina, congestive heart failure or recent ischemia.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media