Even a Little Exercise Makes a Big Difference in Heart Health

By Rebecca Jones

According to a review released on Monday by the American Heart Association even a small amount of moderate exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease. While the federal recommendation for moderate intensity physical activity remains 150 minutes a week; it is becoming clear that this is a case of anything being better than nothing.

In the American College of Sports Medicine’s new guidelines, its first since 1998, every level of physical activity was examined from completely sedentary to those surpassing the recommended activity guidelines. According to the study’s author Jacob Sattelmair “The biggest health benefits we saw were for those who went from doing nothing to those doing something small.” This doesn’t mean that couch potatoes are off the hook. People who get 300 minutes of exercise a week or twice the recommended federal guidelines are 20% less likely to die from cardio vascular disease and those who put in the required 150 minutes lower their risk by 14%. Still If working out a half hour a day seems like too much of a commitment the latest findings reveal that just 15 minutes of activity a day can make a big difference for people at risk of heart attack, diabetes and obesity. Keep in mind too that this is just moderate activity; just about anything that gets you up and moving counts. While walking is great exercise, riding a bike, dancing, even housekeeping can count as physical activity.

Another finding from the new AMS guidelines is that it’s not just how long you exercise but how often throughout the day. While it used to be enough to go to the gym in the morning the latest research indicates that the amount of time a person spends sedentary throughout the day still needs to be taken into consideration. Sitting for long periods at a stretch can have a serious negative impact on a person’s overall health increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. To increase the benefits of an exercise regimen it helps to break up activity throughout the day. Striving for a fifteen minute walk on lunch break and a 15 minute game of catch after dinner can significantly reduce certain health risk.

The bottom line is the more exercise the better. The health benefits of 300 minutes of activity a week will always outweigh the benefits of 60 but for those who hate to exercise take heart even a little is much better than nothing, it all counts.