Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise really are good for your heart: Medical science proves the heart disease prevention benefits of being outside
01/20/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Being outdoors not only benefits the body, but also the mind. In addition, it helps support heart health. Heart disease patients may tend to be very cautious as they are physically limited. However, this leads to them being isolated and sedentary. Getting out of the house and enjoying nature can help them improve their cardiovascular health. A patient with heart disease can do outdoor activities that are not physically rigorous such as walking with someone or taking part in a community garden.

“The idea of getting them out in the world, especially in the company of other people, is extremely important for recovery,” said clinical psychologist Barry Jacobs.

By simply taking a walk outdoors is already considered as an exercise, which is the main benefit of being outdoors. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), walking is the simplest, positive change to do to enhance your heart health. In addition, being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke. As long as a physical activity makes you move your body, burn calories and does not put too much strain on your heart, it is beneficial for the heart health.

In general, exercise is a healthy activity that can make the heart muscle stronger. For heart disease patients, it may help you to be more active without chest pain or other symptoms. In addition, regular exercise can help you lose weight and feel better, and will also help make bones stronger. Furthermore, exercise can be as effective as medications for heart disease, or even replace them.


However, if you have a heart disease, it is important to consult your health provider first before starting to exercise regularly to avoid straining the heart that may lead to other complications, such as dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Gerald Fletcher, a cardiologist, explained that for those with angina or chest discomfort related to heart disease, exercise alone can allow some patients to stop taking beta blockers — which are expensive and have side effects. He also said that even those with more severe heart disease can benefit from exercise.

“It is important to get into the outside environment. It's more fun, you see others exercising, it's a social thing,” Fletcher explained.

He described that exercising outdoors is more productive, beneficial, and enjoyable. This means that exercise also benefits the mind, which is essential for patients with heart disease. Depression has been associated with heart disease, and exercise is a way to prevent and treat depression, according to an article on the Harvard Health Publishing website.

"For some people it works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn't enough for someone with severe depression," said Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Depression not only affects the brain, but also the entire body. It has been associated with inflammation, which plays a role in the clogging of arteries and the rupture of plaque filled with cholesterol. Moreover, it increases the production of stress hormones, which in turn reduce the response of the heart and arteries to demands for increased blood flow. Blood clots are also more likely to form in the bloodstream. (Related: Heart disease solutions – Healing from the inside out.)

Studies have shown that exercise and mood are associated with each other. James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University told the American Psychological Association: "There's good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program."

Read more stories on heart disease and how to manage it at

Sources include: 1 2

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