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Exercise and Heart Failure Risk

Even leisurely walks make a difference.

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Two men walking to increase exercise for heart failure risk

Historically, many studies have used self-reported data, which has its flaws. One of the first studies to objectively measure physical activity levels shows that consistent moderate or vigorous exercise is linked with a 63% and 66% lower risk of heart failure, respectively, among white adults when compared with those who did little to no exercise. “These findings indicate that every physical movement counts,” said co-lead study author Frederick K. Ho, PhD, lecturer in public health at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. “A leisurely, 10-minute walk is better than sitting and no physical activity. And, if possible, try to walk a little faster, which increases the intensity and potential benefits of exercise.”

He adds: “We found that moderate physical activity has the potential [for] increased cardiovascular risk benefits up until 500 minutes/week, as appropriate for each individual.”

A significant differentiating factor of this study is that the benefit of physical activity was measured independently from any other factors such as lifestyle, socioeconomic or demographic conditions.

The study on exercise and heart failure is published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association (2022; doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.122.059663).

See also: Exercise Program Can Restore Heart Muscle Health

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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