Vigorous exercise linked to higher vitamin D levels, lower heart disease risk

It’s long been known that vigorous exercise lowers heart disease risk. Now, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests some new reasons why that’s so—most notably, that it boosts vitamin D.

Researchers found that three or more hours a week of vigorous exercise—such as running, jogging, or playing basketball or soccer—can reduce the risk of heart attack by 22%. They also found that those who exercised vigorously have higher levels of vitamin D as well as higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

“The fact that vitamin D plays a role in the relationship between exercise and risk of heart disease is a new finding,” lead author Andrea Chomistek, a researcher in HSPH’s nutrition department, told USA Today. “This likely comes from being outside more. People who exercise tend to be out in the sun, which raises their vitamin D level.”

The findings were reported in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of American College of Sports Medicine.

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Vitamin D and health (HSPH Nutrition Source)