Any type of regular exercise - either moderate or vigorous- is good for heart health. Highlighting this point, a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure found that people who made exercise part of their daily life were less likely to develop heart failure than physically inactive people.
Spending at least one hour for moderate exercise or half an hour for vigorous physical activity every day reduced risk of heart failure by 46 percent.
Heart failure is a condition when the heart fails to pump enough blood needed for the proper function of the body. More than 23 million people around the world are affected with the deadly condition that is associated with 30 to 50 percent increased risk of death within five years of diagnosis.
The Swedish study looked at 39,805 people, aged between 20 and 90, who were not suffering from heart failure at the beginning of the study in 1997. As part of the study, participants completed a questionnaire on lifestyle. It covered different topics including their smoking- drinking habit, physical activity -both job-related and leisure time- and medication use. Researchers further divided the leisure time physical activity into three categories including light (casual walking) moderate (jogging, swimming) and heavy (competitive sports). Medical records were used to find out prevalence of the condition, hospitalization and mortality.
Heart failure prevailed more among older men with an unhealthy body weight, who already had experienced heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Risk of developing the condition went down with an increase in physical activity.
"You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity—even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects," co-author of the study Dr Kasper Andersen, from the Uppsala University in Sweden, said in a news release. "Physical activity lowers many heart disease risk factors, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart failure as well as other heart diseases."
These findings re-confirm previous research and experts' opinion on the importance of physical activity. A research released in July found that people who ran for even a few minutes daily had comparatively lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases than non-runners.
Physical activity has also been proven to fight other deadly diseases including cancers of breast and colon; diabetes and depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality that claims nearly 3.2 million lives every year. According to the organization, children aged between five and 17 should get one hour moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, while adults aged between 18 and 64 should get either 150 minutes moderate to intensive aerobic activity or 75 minutes vigorous aerobic physical activity a week.