New Study Shows That Any Form Of Exercise Is Beneficial To Cardiovascular Health

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New research from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) suggests that any form of activity, including sleep, is more advantageous for heart health than being sedentary. The study is the first of its kind to investigate the correlation between daily movement patterns and cardiovascular well-being.

Exercise intensity has a positive impact on health

Dr Jo Blodgett, UCL Surgery & Interventional Science and the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health and first study author, said that the most important takeaway from their study is that even though small changes in how someone moves have a positive impact on health, movement intensity is the most crucial aspect. The researcher added that the most advantageous change they noted was substituting sedentary behaviour with moderate to vigorous physical activity. This encompasses activities such as running, brisk walking, or stair climbing—essentially any exercise that elevates heart rate and induces faster breathing, even if only for a brief period.

The study found that the most significant improvements in heart health were associated with moderate to vigorous activity, followed by less vigorous exercise, standing, and sleeping. Even a brief five-minute session of higher-intensity activity had a noticeable positive effect. Simple changes, like choosing a standing desk instead of sitting, could contribute to long-term heart health.

Changing lifestyle offers cardiovascular benefits

The study emphasizes the importance of increased physical activity for heart health, highlighting a novel approach that considers various behaviors throughout the entire day. Professor Mark Hamer, a joint senior author, notes that this comprehensive perspective enables the development of personalized recommendations to encourage people to be more active in ways suitable for them.

Most importantly, addressing heart health is critical due to the global rise in cardiovascular disease, which accounted for one in three deaths in 2021 and has doubled since 1997.

According to BHF Associate Medical Director Professor James Leiper, regular exercise has well-documented cardiovascular benefits, and recent research suggests that making minor changes to daily routines can reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.  Replacing a few minutes of sitting with moderate activity can positively impact BMI, cholesterol, and waist size, among other physical benefits.

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