It’s no mystery that exercise is a cornerstone of good health. Not only does physical activity improve overall health, it reduces risk for heart disease and chronic diseases like heart failure. That’s why the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. But does exceeding minimum recommendations have added health benefits, especially when it comes to heart failure risk?
To learn more, researchers analyzed 12 past research studies looking at the relationship between exercise and the development of heart failure. Together, the studies included more than 370,000 adults that were initially free of heart failure and followed for over a decade. Their findings were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
During the follow-up period, 5% of study participants developed heart failure. However, risk for heart failure was strongly influenced by exercise levels. Participants that met the recommended levels of physical activity had 10% lower heart failure risk than those reporting no physical activity. Compared to adults with no physical activity, those who doubled or even quadrupled recommended exercise levels had 19% and 35% lower risk of heart failure, respectively.
Heart failure is a growing public health issue in the United States. More than 5.1 million Americans are now living with heart failure, and rates are expected to increase by 25% in the next two decades.
The good news is that exercise can go a long way in reducing risk for heart failure and other chronic conditions. In this study, exercising just 30 minutes a day five times a week helped significantly reduce risk for heart failure. Getting more than the recommended levels of exercise further reduced heart failure risk by up to 35%.
Not only do these findings reinforce the importance of regular physical activity, they highlight the potential added benefits of frequent exercise. Although getting 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise has been shown to improve health, it’s possible that exceeding these levels may help further reduce risk for conditions like heart failure. With future research, experts hope to identify the optimal amount of exercise for reducing risk for heart failure and other chronic conditions.