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A Publication of WTVP

When does a heart attack occur? The majority of time it occurs during times of stress. Many attuned cardiologists find some grave emotional issues weighing on the heart and soul of the heart attack victim. Stress, especially when chronic, can affect blood pressure in susceptible individuals and bring on heart attacks without any plaque at autopsy.

Stress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension, and that may be a factor in causing diseases. Physical and chemical factors that can cause stress include trauma, infections, toxins, illnesses, and injuries of any kind. Emotional causes of stress are numerous and varied. The degree of stress in our lives is highly dependent upon individual factors such as our physical health, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, the number of the commitments and responsibilities we carry out, and the number of changes or distressing events that have recently occurred in our lives.

Are you harboring ill feelings or unforgiveness toward someone? Is there someone whose forgiveness you must ask for? Are you dealing with a relationship problem? Are you unhappy in your work or with your life? Do you suffer from guilt, impatience, or unrest? The emotional weight on your heart can hurt you as bad or worse than any other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

Experts have a plethora of advice for reducing stress and anxiety levels. What about exercising your stress away? Exercising can produce a temporary stress on some bodily functions, but its health benefits are indisputable. Many of us have heard that low to moderate intensity levels of exercise can ease personal tension and stress. Exercise has even been prescribed in clinical settings to help treat nervous tension.

However, a recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates high-intensity exercise is superior to lower levels of exercise intensity in reducing stress and anxiety. Three groups of participants were tested for anxiety levels before and after exercise sessions. The group exercising at the highest intensity level showed the most significant drop in stress levels at 30, 60, and 90 minutes post-exercise. The researchers of this study also indicated women might benefit more from high-intensity exercise than men. Richard Cox, the leader of this study, believes the results should be beneficial to medical practitioners in the fight against heart disease.

Since a mild degree of stress can sometimes be beneficial, our goal should be to manage stress-not completely eliminate it. Exercise is one avenue of controlling our stress levels and its effect on our physical and mental health. So don't worry; be happy and healthy. IBI

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