There are a number of ways weight loss can benefit the health of your heart. First and probably foremost, it lowers your BMI (body mass index). You can calculate your BMI by taking your weight in pounds and dividing it by your height in inches squared. Then multiply 703 by that number and you will have your body mass index.
If your BMI is between 18 and 25, it is in the normal range. If it is between 25 and 30, it is in the overweight range and above 30 is obese. Anyone who is obese or overweight needs to lower their values into the normal range. This can be accomplished by getting regular exercise and eating foods with less fat and calories.
You don’t need to lose a huge amount of weight to lower your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. If you can lose only 5 – 10% of your weight, your risk of suffering a cardiac event will go down dramatically.
The Role of Diet
Of course, most of us realize that if we take in fewer calories or exercise more, we will lose weight. That means it doesn’t really matter which type of diet you follow. You can have good results with a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet or one that is high in protein. What matters is that the total number of calories is reduced below the level that will sustain you at your present weight.
For example, the average person will need to consume 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day to maintain their weight. To lose weight, that same person will need to take in at least 500 calories less per day for seven days to lose a pound of weight. It doesn’t matter whether you take in fewer calories or use up more of them in exercise, you will still lose the weight.
Although it is important to aim for a balance of carbs, protein and fat in your diet, it doesn’t matter as far as losing weight. Dieting is a strict “calories in versus calories out” interpretation of how to lose weight.
The Role of Exercise
As mentioned above, you can increase your weight loss by getting more exercise. This can be by brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling or any activity that will increase your heart and respiratory rate. This aerobic exercise should be done at least 30 minutes per day for 3 to 4 days a week.
For a healthy heart, doctors usually recommend that you do anaerobic exercise on the other days of the week. This can be using weight machines and/or lifting weights. This type of exercise will increase muscle mass and that will make it easier for you to lose weight because having muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate. That means you will continue to burn more fat even when you are not exercising.
Between these two types of exercise, you should be working out at least 30 minutes a day, every day. The heart benefit you will see from this half hour out of your day makes it well worth the effort.
Heart Changes With Weight Loss
By losing just 10% of your body weight, your heart will benefit in the following ways.
Your blood vessels will become more elastic. When you exercise, you help your blood vessels become wider and their elasticity will increase. This means your heart will not have to work as hard, so it will be less stressed and will do its work more effectively. In addition, your arteries will contain less fat from plaque in the lining of your blood vessels. In turn, less plaque means the chances will decrease that you will have a blood clot that seals off an artery and causes a stroke, heart attack or peripheral vascular disease.
You will have lower blood pressure. Your weight and blood pressure have a direct connection. If your weight is lower, you will have a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure and that means less chance of having heart disease. Exercise is also helpful in lowering blood pressure. You may even be able to lower your blood pressure medications if you lose weight.
The lipids in your blood will be lower if you lose weight. Your triglyceride level will go down and the good cholesterol (HDL) will go up. The bad cholesterol (LDL) will most likely also go down.
You will be less likely to develop blood clots. Losing weight means it will be much less likely that you will have a blood clot that will break off and travel to your brain, lungs or heart.
You will have less belly fat. Studies have now shown that the fat you carry in your belly greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease. It even turns out that people whose weight is normal, but have belly fat, are at greater risk for a cardiac event.
So there are many reasons why losing weight is good for your heart. Isn’t now the time to change some habits and get back on the path to good health?