Heart disease: A little exercise goes a long way

Even a small amount of exercise may significantly lower your risk of getting heart disease, according to a new study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). A team led by Jacob Sattelmair, who did the research while a doctoral student at HSPH, found that as little as 2.5 hours of exercise a week—just 150 minutes—can cut heart disease risk by 14%. What’s more, even those who exercise less than that can decrease their risk.

Some physical activity is better than none, and more is better,” Sattelmair told HealthDay. He added, “The biggest bang for your buck is at the lower ends of physical activity. 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.”

For the study, published online August 1, 2011 in the journal Circulation, Sattelmair and his co-authors—including senior author I-Min Lee, HSPH associate professor of epidemiology, and colleagues from Stanford University and the University of Texas School of Public Health—conducted a meta-analysis of 33 studies from the past 15 years that investigated the relationship between physical activity and heart disease prevention.

Read the American Heart Association press release

Read the HealthDay article

Learn more

What’s your heart disease risk? (Disease Risk Index, HSPH)