Exercise could be the biggest factor in preventing heart disease

Exercise and physical activity could be one of the key factors in preventing heart disease.

Although it’s always been known that exercise is an important preventative, new research suggests it plays a major role with the most active being only half as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those who don’t exercise at all, say researchers at Oxford University.

They tracked the health and activity levels of 90,211 participants in the UK Biobank project who wore an accelerometer for seven days to measure their physical activity. During the five years of the study, 3617 participants developed heart disease, but more cases were found in those who did no activity, and already had high blood pressure (hypertension). Those who did a little exercise were only 71 percent as likely to develop heart problems as those in the sedentary group, while those in the moderate exercise group were 59 percent as likely, and the most active were just 46 percent as likely.

“Physical activity is probably even more important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease than we previously thought,” said Aiden Doherty, one of the researchers.

They say their findings underline the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) to have at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise.

(Source: PLOS Medicine, 2021; doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003487)