Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and contribute to six percent of deaths globally.
The World Health Organization data reveals that more than 60 percent of the world's population is not physically active enough to induce health benefits. The reason behind it seems to be the lifestyle choice.
We would prefer to watch television or play computer games during leisure time instead of participating in sports or taking a walk in the nature. Thanks to modern gadgets and tools, domestic activities and occupational activities do not require much of physical activity. Passive mode of transport is also to blame for the declining physical activity levels.
The fault is not always ours. Urbanization has resulted in environmental factors which may discourage physical activity. Population explosion, increased levels of crime, high density traffic in cities, air pollution, and lack of parks or greeneries, all contribute directly or indirectly toward physical inactivity.
According to the WHO, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and contributes to six percent of deaths globally. Physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 30 percent of ischemic heart disease and 27 percent of diabetes burden.
Any bodily movement involving skeletal muscles, resulting in energy expenditure can be called physical activity. Physical activity does not mean just exercise ¨C it also includes other activities such as walking, playing, dancing, cycling, house chores, and recreational activities.
Health benefits of physical activity are many.
It helps control weight. (Remember excessive weight ¡ú obesity ¡ú heart disease?)
It helps control blood glucose levels in a diabetic individual. Diabetics are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
It reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and delays or prevents development of high blood pressure.
It can also lower blood cholesterol levels which in turn decrease the risk for heart disease.
It helps improve blood circulation in the body and enables all organs (including heart) and muscles to work together more effectively.
It helps promote psychological well-being.
Incidentally, you don't have to achieve a high fitness level to get health benefits. A University of British Columbia review study confirmed the findings that walking at least two hours a week could reduce premature death from heart disease by up to 50 percent.  They believe that even small increases in physical fitness are associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular risk.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Report recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking, ballroom dancing or gardening for adults.
The Heart Foundation recommends that we find ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily living. They suggest at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to keep our heart healthy. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, recommends 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week to promote heart health. Aerobic exercise
is recommended for improving HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol as these are associated with cardiovascular disease. A meta-analysis of control trials revealed that aerobic exercise for > or = 8 weeks in men 18 years of age or older significantly improved HDL cholesterol and reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides level. [ 14]
You may be surprised to know that yoga
, too, has the potential to retard progression and increase regression of atherosclerosis and other heart disease. An AIIMS study from India conducted a randomized, controlled trial in which men with coronary artery disease (CAD) were given yoga intervention for one year. Results revealed that yoga groups had significant reduction in number of anginal episodes per week, had significantly more lesions regressed and showed other heart benefits including decrease in body weight. There were no side effects. [ 15]
Another study by U.S. physical therapy researchers found that typical hatha yoga sessions
represent low levels of physical activity, similar to walking on a treadmill at 3.2 kph, and they do not meet recommendations of physical activity for improving cardiovascular fitness. However, they found that yoga practice involving sun salutation (Suryanamaskar)
exceeding the minimum bout of 10 minutes may actually improve cardio-respiratory fitness in sedentary individuals. 
On the whole, any mode of physical activity is beneficial to heart health as long as you do it on a regular basis and enjoy doing it. The thing is to get physical!