Exercise And The Heart – What Can We Gain?

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Even the most entrenched couch potato will grudgingly agree that exercise confers some benefits in terms of heart health and other structures. Nutritional Therapists and virtually all health care providers include a few suggestions as to the need to exercise for multiple systems benefit and in particular to reduce cardiovascular disease.

A paper in the Journal Circulation based on a meta-analysis has made a valiant effort to attempt to quantify this for us.[1]

Here are the key points

Exercising for 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week: Produces a 14% reduction in the risk of CHD, Vs those who do none.
Exercising for 300 minutes per week at a moderately intense level: Produces a 20% reduction in the risk of CHD, Vs those who do none.
Even small amounts, below 150 but above 0 has a positive effect.

By collecting all the data from numerous studies the authors found that women experienced the greatest benefits from regular activity. The analysis showed a 22% reduction in CHD risk among men and a 33% reduction among women.

People whose total activity time was five times greater than the minimum had a 25% lower CHD risk compared with people who reported no physical activity.


The role of physical activity in the management of overall health can sometimes become an area of confrontation between the patient and clinician, this is unlikely to change this a great deal, other than it can be motivational to quote the figures and then translate this into gains, in terms of years saved and functionality increases.


[1] Sattelnair J, Pertman J, Ding EL, Kohl HW, Haskell W, Lee IM. Dose response between physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease. Circulation, August 1, 2011. Published on line.  View Abstract

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