More Exercise May Reduce the Risk of Heart Failure

The prevailing wisdom for decades on keeping your heart healthy is to make sure you get enough exercise. The standard formula is that everyone should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, 30 minutes for five days out of the week, in order to prevent heart attack and stroke.

But that’s not the only way that the heart can fail. Heart failure isn’t just a matter of clogged arteries and high blood pressure but a complex condition that can involve numerous systems of the body. In heart failure the heart is unable to pump as effectively which starves the rest of the body of oxygenated blood. Over time this gets worse until death occurs.

Researchers wanted to know if more physical exercise could help this population as well. Due to a weakened heart the standard medical advice for heart failure was to maintain bed rest, but since exercise helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke they wanted to analyze just how much exercise might be necessary to lower the risk of heart failure.

The meta-study they performed involving over 370,000 people that were followed for an average of 13 years yielded a surprising answer. The most physically active people had an average 30% less risk of heart failure than the least active people. The people in this category were exercising much more than the 150 minutes currently recommended. Those who did exercise for just 150 minutes only experienced a 15-22% reduction in the risk of heart failure.

Those who doubled the amount of moderate activity they got a slight bump in reduction, but those who quadrupled the amount of exercise they received saw a huge drop in the chance of heart failure. In some cases, the chance dropped by 40%.

However, more research is needed before science can nail a definitive link between extra exercise beyond the recommended amount and a reduction in heart failure, but the existing data is very encouraging. For most of the population exercising more often is not going to cause problems. So if you needed yet another excuse to get up and exercise, how does reducing your chance of heart failure strike you?

For more information on how you can get your health back on track, contact Frank Tortorici for a fitness and nutrition consultation.

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