• A new study has found that increasing physical activity quickly can help significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Vigorous activity (such as running or brisk walking) may be more beneficial than moderate activity (such as walking), even when overall activity does not change.
  • The study found that a rapid increase in exercise could lead to a 40% drop in heart disease.

A recent study on activity levels and heart health found that brisk physical activity is more likely to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease than more moderate levels of exercise.

Although physical activity has long been known to reduce the rate of certain heart diseases, the specific type of activity has generally not been separated from the duration of activity.

Fast activity (like running) may provide more benefit than moderate activity (like walking), even when overall activity does not change. The study found that a rapid increase in exercise could lead to a 40% drop in heart disease.

The researchers said that in addition to exercise intensity, it may also be the total number of hours of physical activity that makes the most difference.

Paddy Dempsey, PhD, a researcher in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Leicester and the University of Cambridge, and first author of the paper, said wearable fitness trackers helped the team get better data.

“Most large-scale studies to date have used questionnaires to determine participants’ physical activity levels, but the intensity and duration of physical activity are difficult to recall accurately, especially when it’s about low-intensity daily activities like washing the car or sorting the laundry,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Without accurate records of the duration and intensity of physical activity, there has been no It was not possible to distinguish the contribution of more vigorous physical activity from that of the overall volume of physical activity.”

The study published on October 27 in theEuropean journal of the hearttracked the exercise levels of 88,000 UK participants over a week by having them use a wearable device that tracked their steps. (Previous studies often used activity diaries that participants filled out, which could lead to errors because many overestimated their activity level.) Physical activity levels were calculated from collected movement data and the amount of fast and moderate activity. . The subjects were then followed for an average of 6.8 years and their subsequent rate of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, was recorded. All participants were middle-aged and had no current cardiovascular problems.

“The study of physical activity wearables in 88,000 people is unique because of its use of research-grade activity trackers to measure the volume and intensity of physical activity. This way, researchers avoided the more common study protocol of using questionnaires to determine participants’ physical activity levels,” said Dr. Rachel-Maria Brown Talaska, Director of Cardiac Inpatient Services. at Lenox Hill Hospital.

When the data was fully collected and analyzed, total activity volume was found to be associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

It was also found that when the rate of brisk exercise increased from 10% of daily activity to 20%, the risk of cardiovascular disease was further reduced by 14%, even when daily activity levels were still low. The lowest rates of cardiovascular disease were seen in those who had higher levels of daily activity and higher rates of brisk to moderate activity.

“New data indicates that not only can sedentary behavior be fatal with increased cardiac events, physical activity is not only a modifier, but the intensity of that physical activity matters. The more your workouts are vigorous, the greater the cardiac protection,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan, cardiologist and executive director of community health and education at Piedmont Healthcare, Inc.

Increasing overall activity but not increasing brisk exercise rate did not further decrease heart disease risk. If overall activity increased and the rate of brisk exercise increased, the rate of cardiovascular disease was further reduced.

The rate of heart disease fell by 23% when the proportion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased by 20%. If the amount of fast exercise was further increased by 40%, the rate of heart disease decreased by 40%.

“Although the type of physical activity has not been specifically studied, converting current habits or adopting new ones can be selected based on what fits your lifestyle,” Morgan added. The study authors recommended increasing physical activity rates by trying to cover the same distance in less time, such as walking at a faster pace or doing more aerobics in the same amount of time. previously. They also added that total activity levels are still important, and even if someone is unable to significantly increase their activity level quickly, low-intensity exercise is still valuable.

Both doctors agreed that the most important part of the study was the importance of achieving higher overall activity levels. Brown Talaska suggested several new activities for those looking to increase their exercise intensity.

“Examples of vigorous physical activity include running, swimming laps, singles tennis, and jumping rope.” She also suggested that “patients should gradually increase their physical activity in partnership with their healthcare provider; if you’re not doing anything, do something – maybe light physical activity. If you do something – like light physical activity, do more – like moderate or vigorous activity. Aim for the next level! Your heart will thank you.

Morgan provided similar advice. “If you’re a walker, like me, it’s time to pick up the pace. If you’re a Pilates enthusiast, like me, push yourself to do a few extra reps of the moves. Increase your heart rate and improve your overall health. Who knows? You may even lose a few pounds in the process.