How much time of physical exercise helps protect the heart: is there a minimum and maximum?

Performing 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking or dancing, for example, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week such as running or other sports, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), reduces the risk of mortality by 16%, the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 27% and of cardiovascular accidents by 12%, according to a study carried out in Spain.

As Albert Clarà, the first signatory of the study published in the Spanish Journal of Cardiology, explains, “the specific question we wanted to answer was, what is the minimum and maximum amount of physical activity to optimize the benefits on cardiovascular health?”.

Researchers from the CIBER for Cardiovascular Diseases (CIBERCV) and the CIBER for Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP) of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) followed up on 11,158 people for more than 7 years, all from the REGICOR study. The physical activity data of the participants, people between 25 and 79 years old, was collected with validated questionnaires, in which they specified up to 64 types of activities.

Cardiovascular accidents and mortality (863 people died during the study) were identified with these follow-ups and by crossing data with the data analytics program for research and innovation in health (PADRIS), of the Department of Health of the Generalitat.

Helmut Schröder, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at CIBERESP and IMIM, pointed out that “the results indicate that the practice of moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality “.

In this sense, Jaume Marrugat, another of the authors of the article and a researcher at CIBERCV and IMIM, highlighted that the most interesting results are “that the benefit is already observed with small doses of physical activity. Following the current WHO recommendations is associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and a 16% reduction in death. “At the same time,” the maximum benefit is observed when multiply by four the practice of these recommendations, without observing an additional benefit by increasing physical activity above this level. ”No differences were observed due to age or gender.

Outdoor gyms due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Luciano Thieberger

Promote a healthy lifestyle

It is estimated that lack of physical activity is responsible for 6% of cardiovascular diseases, 7% of diabetes and 9% of premature mortality. Also that one in four European adults does not follow the WHO recommendations on physical activity, a figure that reaches 35% in Spain. In Argentina, according to the latest National Survey of Risk Factors, of 2018, 65% of those over 18 years of age report low physical activity (less than 30 minutes a day).

Roberto Elosua, group leader at CIBERCV, researcher at IMIM and at the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), discovers in this sense “the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle that incorporates the practice of physical activity for pprevention of cardiovascular disease“.

The authors indicate that “the practice of physical activity is not only an individual decision, but also requires the commitment of public bodies and institutions, to facilitate the population’s access to environments where these activities can be easily carried out, both in urban and rural areas “.

Source: Agency

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