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Even a Little Exercise Helps the Heart, Study Finds
Date:8/1/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk after dinner. Play tag with your kids at the park.

New research shows that even small amounts of exercise -- about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate activity a week -- can reduce the risk of heart disease by about 14 percent.

Those who did more -- about 300 minutes a week, or five hours -- reduced their risk of heart disease, including heart attacks, angina and bypass surgeries, by 20 percent compared to people who did no exercise, the study found.

"Some physical activity is better than none, and more is better," said lead study author Jacob Sattelmair, who was a doctoral candidate at Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, when he conducted the research.

The benefits of even more exercise continue to add up. People who reported exercising for 750 minutes a week, or 12.5 hours -- had a 25 percent reduced risk of heart disease. But that's many more hours of working out for only a small additional risk reduction, Sattelmair noted.

"The biggest bang for your buck is at the lower ends of physical activity," said Sattelmair, now director of research and strategy at Dossia, an organization in Cambridge, Mass., whose goal is to improve employee health and health care, while reducing health care costs. "If you went from none to 2.5 hours a week, the relative benefit is more than if you went from, say, 5 to 7.5 hours a week."

In the study, published online Aug. 1 in Circulation, Sattelmair and colleagues analyzed the results of 33 studies that assessed the health benefits of exercise.

For reasons researchers aren't sure of, women saw even more protective benefits from exercise than men, although this could have been a quirk of the statistics, they said.

While 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week is the minimum goal based on c
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