Northside Hospital - Why running is good for your heart

Why running is good for your heart

By Dr. Kimberly Champney

Exercising on a regular basis can have major health benefits that extend far beyond any medication a doctor can prescribe. In fact, just 30 minutes a day at least five times a week can have profound benefits on your health.

Running on a regular basis strengthens all of our muscles, but more importantly our hearts. There’s no doubt that running is a great way to stay in shape too. Many studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and quite a few other conditions that harm the human body.

Running can have improvements on the quality of your emotional and mental life. It also can help you live longer. Regular running can reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, and also the production of stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. You can improve your blood circulation and lower your risk of thrombosis.

If you’re already very active, then you know that the heart starts to pump faster when it is under strain. Running is a great way to boost your endurance, and is very effective when it comes to strengthening your heart. The heart is the body’s most vital organ.

Warning signs of heart issues
Sometimes you can have heart issues without having any clear warning signs. In fact, some heart symptoms don’t even happen within your chest, so it’s not always easy to tell what’s going on. Here are a few things you should however watch out for.

Chest discomfort
This is the most common sign that your heart can be in danger. If you have any blocked arteries or may be having a heart attack, you may feel some pain, tightness or extreme pressure in your chest.

Pain throughout your arm
Sometimes pain may radiate down through the left side of your body. This is another classic heart attack symptom. Most times the pain starts from the chest and then moves outward.

Lightheaded or dizzy
There are many things that can make you lose your balance or cause you to briefly feel faint. It could range from not having enough to eat or drink, to standing up too fast. However, if all of a sudden you feel unsteady, coupled with chest discomfort or shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention right away.

Becoming exhausted easily
If you find yourself becoming suddenly fatigued or winded after doing an activity that you’ve had no problem doing in the past—something like walking up the stairs or even just carrying your groceries to or from your car, you should speak with a doctor right away. Many times, these changes are more important for your doctor to know about, than every little ache or pain you may experience.

Irregular heart beats
It is quite normal for your heart to race if you get nervous or excited about something. But if feel as if your heart beat has become irregular for more than a few seconds, or starts to happen more often, you should tell your doctor.

Dr. Kimberly Champney is a cardiologist at Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Care, who practices within the Northside Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Champney is also an avid runner. For more information, call 404-303-3320 or visit


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