Friday, August 5, 2011
Study: Any Exercise Helps the Heart
News Review From Harvard Medical School -- Study: Any Exercise Helps the Heart
Even small amounts of daily exercise help to reduce the risk of heart disease. That's the conclusion of a new review of research on the topic. Some benefit was seen with as little as 10 to 15 minutes of exercise a day. The review combined the results of 9 previous studies. All of them included information on exercise habits. Researchers looked at people who did moderate-intensity exercise (such as walking) for a least 150 minutes a week. That is the current recommended minimum. People in this group had a 14% lower rate of heart disease than those who did no exercise. Benefits of exercise were strongest among women. The study appeared in the journal Circulation. USA Today wrote about it August 2.
By Howard LeWine, M.D.
Harvard Medical School
What is the Doctor's Reaction?
Yes, we all know that exercise is good for you. But does more exercise actually prevent coronary heart disease? Not everyone has been convinced of the direct link.
People who exercise tend to be more conscious of what they eat. They are less likely to smoke. They also pay more attention to their health. Maybe that's why they are healthier.
This very comprehensive study gives us a definitive answer. It found that any amount of exercise decreases your risk of chest pain, heart attack and death from heart disease. In fact, people who don't exercise at all can decrease their risk of heart disease with as little as 10 to 15 minutes of exercise per day.
The researchers set out to define how much exercise it takes to decrease your risk of heart disease. Their benchmark was the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This is exercise that a person performs during non-work hours. It is often called leisure-time physical activity.
According to this study, people who get an average of 150 minutes per week of exercise reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by 14%. For people who average 300 minutes per week, the risk reduction improves to 20%.
Women appear to benefit more than men. The researchers found that women had a greater reduction in heart disease from similar amounts and intensity of exercise. This was unexpected. Other studies have not shown a sex difference. Also there is not a good biological explanation to account for this.
What Changes Can I Make Now?
Do you engage in any leisure-time physical activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat a little? If you don't, get started. Take a short walk every day, mow the lawn or plant a garden. Do something every day, even if it is only for a few minutes.
Your next goal is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. That is less than 2% of the total minutes in a week! (There are 10,080 minutes per week.)
Moderate-intensity exercise can be determined by heart rate or METs. MET stands for metabolic equivalent. One MET is the amount of energy you burn when you are sitting quietly.
Heart rate -- Moderate-intensity exercise raises your heart rate to 60% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. The simplest formula for maximum heart rate is 220 minute your age.
METs -- Moderate-intensity exercise means 3 to 5.9 METs. Examples of activities that increase your metabolic rate to this level include:
- Walking at 3 to 3.4 miles per hour
- Riding a stationary bike with light effort
- Riding an outdoor bicycle at 7 to 10 miles per hour
Labels: Circulation, Cross Post, Exercise, For the Body, Harvard Medical School, heart disease, Heart Rate, Howard LeWine, Leisure-Time Physical Activity, METs, moderate-intensity, Physical Activity, Staff