High-intensity exercise yields extra heart effects

The risk of heart disease steadily decreases as the intensity of exercise increases.

Every two years from 1986 to 1998, researchers from Loma Linda University in California assessed the rate of heart disease in 44,452 men who participated in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. At each examination, the men answered detailed questionnaires regarding their lifestyle and current levels of physical activity.

All types of exercise – aerobic and resistive – lowered the risk of heart disease. However, the intensity of physical activity was also inversely tied to CHD risk, independent of time spent exercising.

Men with high-intensity activities, including brisk walking, were 17 per cent less likely to develop CHD than those with low-intensity activities.

Increasing the total volume of activity, increasing the intensity of aerobic exercise from low to moderate and from moderate to high, and adding weight training to the exercise programme are among the most effective strategies to reduce the risk of CHD in men (JAMA, 2002; 288:1994-2000).

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