New Study Linking Heart Health with Exercise
According to new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, exercise is the best way to protect your heart.
Th study – conducted in the Netherlands, specifically Rotterdam – collected data from 5,344 individuals aged 55 to 97. Participants provided information on not only their body mass index (BMI) but also their exercise habits. Researchers also accounted for variables like smoking, alcohol use, diet, education, and family history of premature heart attack. Then, the researchers monitored the group’s rates of heart disease and stroke over a 15 year period.
It should also be noted that researchers included all types of activity in their analysis. Not only did they record each time a participant intentionally exercised, but they also considered running errands as a form of exercise.
The concluding data confirmed that overweight and obesity increase the risk of heart problems – a fact long known in the medical field. As expected, the people who weighed the most had the highest rates of heart disease over the course of the study. However, BMI alone is not solely responsible for the cardiovascular disease present in the participants.
The strikingly new information revealed that the overweight participants, who exercised regularly, had similar heart disease rates as those with normal weight who also exercised regularly. Turns out that exercise cancels out the negative effects of weight gain, especially in regards to heart health.
“We found that inactivity and being obese have the same risk or similar risk of developing heart disease,” says Dr. Klodian Dhana, a postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology at Erasmus Medical Center.
Ultimately, these results promote a strong message: exercise is key to heart health. Though overweight and obesity pose serious risks to the heart, at least some of the risks can be offset by exercise.
It also sends another equally important message: it’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise. Since the participants were all older, “they should believe that by doing physical activity in older age, they can still benefit from decreasing their risk of heart disease,” says Dhana.
In the end, not exercising equates to obesity in terms of heart health. Moreover, not exercising can eventually lead to overweight and obesity. Therefore, it’s better to start exercising sooner rather than later. Even if it’s taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood; any exercise is better than no exercise.
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