5 minute read

The importance of exercise and heart health (hint: it’s crucial)

Published February 7, 2024

Life's a journey, and wellness is yours to explore.

Each day offers a new chance, and it's never too late to start (or keep going). Remember, every step counts—even the small ones—because building healthy habits is always a win.

What effect does exercise have on my cardiovascular system? 

Your heart and blood vessels make up your cardiovascular system. It's also called the circulatory system. That’s because your heart circulates about 2,000 gallons of blood around your body each day to deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste products (like carbon dioxide).¹

Regular exercise not only builds muscle, but also a stronger cardiovascular system. When you're active, your heart and lungs increase their output to supply your muscles with the oxygen they need. As your fitness level improves, your heart and lungs become more efficient at delivering oxygen. And with this comes a nice change: workouts that once left you tired and out of breath now feel easier to handle.²

How does exercise reduce my risk of heart disease and stroke?

Adding more movement in your day can nurture your heart in multiple ways. It can help strengthen your heart, manage your weight, and avoid the damage to blood vessels caused by high cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure—reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.³


What about aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility workouts? Are they good for heart health?

Exercise is a powerful tool for keeping your heart healthy and strong. To better understand how, let's look at the different types of exercises, what they involve, and how each promotes heart health.

Aerobic exercise (running, walking, biking, hiking, swimming)³ ⁸

Helps keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and boosts overall fitness. Regular aerobic exercise also helps control blood sugar levels and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Strength training (lifting weights, push-ups, lunges, squats)³ ⁹

Helps strengthen your bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments while improving your quality of life. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training can help raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

Flexibility workouts (stretching, yoga, Pilates, tai chi)³ ¹⁰

Helps prevent muscle issues and improve your flexibility, balance, and strength. While these workouts don't directly contribute to heart health, they’re an important part of keeping up with aerobic exercise and strength training, which do benefit heart health.

No doctor visit is required to buy your own lab test at questhealth.com. PWNHealth and its affiliates review your purchase to ensure it is medically appropriate before submitting the test order for processing. PWNHealth also reviews your test results and will contact you directly if they require prompt attention. Included in each purchase is the option to discuss your test results with an independent physician; however, you are also encouraged to speak with your primary healthcare provider.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. Cardiovascular system. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21833-cardiovascular-system. 
  2. American Lung Association. Exercise and lung health. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/exercise-and-lung-health. 
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 3 kinds of exercise that boost heart health. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/3-kinds-of-exercise-that-boost-heart-health. 
  4. Mayo Clinic. Exercise: A drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045206. 
  5. Cleveland Clinic. Does exercise lower cholesterol? Accessed January 24, 2024. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/does-exercise-lower-cholesterol. 
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get active! Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html. 
  7. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Physical activity. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/physical-activity-and-obesity. 
  8. American Heart Association. Endurance exercise. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/endurance-exercise-aerobic. 
  9. American Heart Association. Strength and resistance training exercise. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/strength-and-resistance-training-exercise. 
  10. American Heart Association. Flexibility exercise (stretching). Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/flexibility-exercise-stretching.