KATHMANDU — Exercising at least 30 minutes four or five days a week (150 mins a week) is associated with a reduced risk of death and cardiovascular disease, according to the study of physical activity tracking 130,000 people in 17 countries.
Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood through to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.
Though there is no cure for this condition, one can choose to lead a healthy lifestyle to lower the risk of heart failures, according to a study published in The Lancet.
Being highly active (750 mins a week) is associated with an even greater reduction, and the authors found that this was more achievable for those who built physical activity into their day through active transport, job type, or housework.
The researchers claimed that exercise could reverse damage to sedentary, ageing hearts and help to prevent the risk of future heart failure.
“Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past five years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life. I think people should be able to do this as part of their personal hygiene – just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower,” said study’s lead author Dr Benjamin Levine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommend that adults aged 18-64 years old do at least 150 minutes of moderate to intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, as well as muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
Levine noted, “When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops.”
In the study, participants aged 35-70 years old from urban and rural areas in 17 countries across various world regions completed questionnaires on their levels of physical activity.
In the beginning of the study, each participant provided information on their socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviors, medical history, family history of cardiovascular disease, weight, height, waist and hip measurements, and blood pressure.
They also completed a questionnaire on the types of physical activity they completed over a typical week, which the researchers used to calculate their average activity levels.
Of the 106970 people who met the activity guidelines, 3.8% developed cardiovascular disease, compared to 5.1% of people who did not (23549 people). Risk of mortality was also higher for people who did not meet the recommended amount of activity — 6.4% compared to 4.2% for people who met guidelines.
The findings suggest that, if the entire population met physical activity guidelines, 8% of deaths (equivalent to around one in 12 cases) and 4.6% of cardiovascular disease cases (almost one in 20 cases) could be prevented.