- Moderate physical activities such as walking, cycling and yoga can help people lower their risk of heart failure according to a new study.
- Vigorous types of physical activity can also reduce the risk of heart failure.
- But researchers say that very high amounts of vigorous exercise may not provide additional benefits.
Engaging in moderate physical activity more often during the week could help many Americans lower their risk of heart failure, according to a new study.
Moderate exercise includes
More vigorous types of physical activity may also reduce the risk of heart failure, but researchers say that very high amounts of vigorous exercise may not provide additional benefits.
In addition, they found that the benefits of vigorous physical activity were higher when people also engaged in moderate-intensity activity during the week.
This study fits with others
But by using activity monitors to track how often and in what way people moved during the week, the researchers were able to tease apart the distinct heart-related benefits of moderate and vigorous physical activity.
In the study published on August 29 in the journal
For the current study, participants wore an activity monitor on their wrist for seven consecutive days, 24 hours a day. This gave researchers information about the intensity and duration of people’s physical activity.
None of those included in the study had been diagnosed with heart failure or previously had a heart attack.
The researchers followed the participants for an average of 6.1 years after their activity levels were measured, to see how many people were diagnosed with heart failure during that time.
An appreciated one
New research suggests that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing heart failure.
Researchers found that people who did 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week had a 63% lower risk of heart failure.
Those who performed 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week had a 66% lower risk of heart failure.
Both of these were about people who did little or no moderate to vigorous physical activity.
These amounts of physical activity are the minimum recommended as of 2018
John Schuna Jr., PhD, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., said much research on the protective effects of physical activity against cardiovascular disease has focused on acute conditions such as heart . attack and stroke, and related deaths.
But “this is really the first investigation to show that objectively measured physical activity consistent with reaching current guidelines for aerobic-based activities significantly reduces the risk of heart failure,” he said.
The study results also showed that for moderate to vigorous physical activity, some heart-related benefits appeared even at low levels of activity.
“These findings show that every physical movement matters. A leisurely, 10-minute walk is better than sitting and no physical activity,” study author Frederick K. Ho, PhD, a lecturer in public health at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland, said in a press release.
However, “if possible, try to walk a little faster, which increases the intensity and potential benefits of the exercise,” he added.
The results also suggest that exceeding the minimum recommended level of moderate physical activity may provide greater protection against heart failure.
The researchers found that the risk of heart failure continued to decline for moderate levels of physical activity of up to 600 minutes per week. After that, the benefits increased.
For vigorous physical activity, the benefits were highest at 75 to 150 minutes per week, but only if people also did at least 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.
Some people choose strength training because they can do a more intense workout in a shorter amount of time. But the results of this study suggest that vigorous activity alone may not be enough to provide the greatest benefit to the heart.
The new study is observational, so it cannot prove that certain patterns of physical activity directly reduce the risk of developing heart failure. But it fits with a growing body of research on
Another limitation of the study is that the majority of UK Biobank participants are white, so additional research will be needed to see how physical activity affects the risk of heart failure in other groups of people.
Overall, the new study supports 2018
Exercising at these intensities has been shown to have the greatest benefits for heart health and other aspects of health.
How people meet the guidelines can be done in a variety of ways, with any number of physical activities.
“To reach these goals safely, individuals can choose any combination of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activities that they are comfortable and familiar with doing,” Schuna said.
One of the most recommended activities is walking, he said, which carries a low risk of injury.
In addition, “it’s an accessible activity for individuals across the spectrum of age and disability,” he said, noting that older and disabled adults are often able to walk successfully.
There are also many moderate physical activities that you might not think of as “exercise,” such as gardening and yard work, certain types of housework, playing with children, and shoveling snow.
Physical activity is also suitable for people who already have heart disease, although people with heart disease – or other medical conditions – should consult their doctor before starting any new exercise program.
“Physical activity is important before and after you develop heart disease,” said Dr. Eugene C. DePasquale, a cardiologist with Keck Medicine of USC, “because there is evidence that if you do physical activity after a
The new study also suggests that once you’ve consistently met physical activity guidelines, there may be additional benefits to adding more moderate physical activity—up to 600 minutes a week in total.
But to get there, you must first develop a habit of regular physical activity, which is often the biggest challenge for many people starting out.
Schuna said a lot of research has been done to understand what helps people stick to exercise — so far, “no magic bullet.”
Additionally, what motivates one person to bike to work every day may not help another person get to the gym in the morning.
However, Schuna said one thing that has been shown to predict whether people will stick with their physical activity program is social support.
“Individuals who are surrounded by friends and/or family members who socially support physical activity … will tend to have greater success sticking to regular exercise and physical activity programs,” he said.
These supportive people can be physically active themselves, he said, or they can simply encourage you to keep moving throughout the week.