Exercise, even a little exercise, can help protect the heart. Federal guidelines recommend that people exercise at least 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity. That would translate into sweating and breathing hard for at least half an hour five days a week. A lot of people might feel intimidated by such a regular regimen and give up entirely on the grounds that they just don’t have that much time to devote to exercise.
A new meta-analysis of 33 studies of exercise and coronary heart disease risk shows that people who exercised 150 minutes a week did lower their risk by about 14 percent compared to those who sat on the couch. People who exercised even more–300 minutes a week–lowered their risk by about 20 percent. But the most important finding from this study is that people who exercised at all, even though they might not have gotten half an hour a day, were able to reduce their risk of heart disease too. According to the authors, their study offers support to the adage, “some physical activity is better than none.” The biggest improvement was among people who went from no physical activity to exercising just 10 or 15 minutes a day, an amount that is well within reach for most folks.
[Circulation, online Aug. 1, 2011]