Even Moderate Exercise Boosts Heart Health

People don't need to run marathons to see big changes, study finds

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MONDAY, Oct. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The amount of exercise a person gets may be more important to his or her health than the intensity of that exercise, researchers report.

The study of 133 overweight men and women found that a moderate exercise regimen, such as 12 miles of brisk walking a week, offered major improvements in fitness and reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Any additional increase in amount or intensity of exercise provides even more health benefits.

"People only need to walk up to 12 miles per week or for about 125 to 200 minutes per week to improve their heart health," study lead author Brian Duscha of Duke University in Durham, N.C., said in a prepared statement. "Our data suggest that if you walk briskly for 12 miles per week you will significantly increase your cardiovascular fitness levels compared to baseline. If you increase either your mileage or intensity, by going up an incline or jogging, you will achieve even greater gains."

He and his colleagues said their findings should offer encouragement to sedentary people who've been hesitant about starting a regular exercise program.

"The participants in our study received the fitness benefits without losing any weight. Many people exercise to lose weight, and when that doesn't occur, they stop exercising. However, the truth is that you can improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of heart disease by exercising without losing weight," Duscha said.

The findings appear in the October issue of the journal Chest.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease has advice on how you can be active at any size.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Oct. 10, 2005

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