August 2, 2011

Some Exercise Is Better Than None At All

According to new research, doing a little bit of exercise is better than doing none at all.

Researchers did a meta-analysis of 33 studies looking at the effects of exercise on coronary heart disease among people who were active or sedentary to see if they could quantify how much exercise was needed to show any benefits.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise for health benefits.  The researchers used this guideline as a measurement.

Those in the study who met the basic guidelines had a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with people who did no leisure time physical activity. Those who exercised 300 minutes a week saw a 20 percent decrease in risk of heart disease.

Those who were active at five times the basic guidelines saw a decrease of 25 percent for heart disease.

The researchers also found, however, that people who did less than the recommended 150 minutes per week had a lowered risk of heart disease compared with their sedentary counterparts.

"The biggest health benefits we saw were for those who went from doing nothing to those doing something small," Jacob Sattelmair, author of the new AHA study, told USA Today. "Even a little bit of activity makes a significant difference."

Women saw more of a reduction than men in reducing heart disease risk overall.

The authors said that more research may be needed in order to explore the relationship between physical activity and heart disease risk.

The study was published in the journal Circulation.


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