More Exercise Equals More Cardiovascular Benefits

More Exercise Equals More Cardiovascular Benefits

A new study suggests increased exercise consistently leads to better heart health. The study, conducted by the University of Oxford, found that even people who already exercise regularly can enjoy greater cardiovascular benefits by exercising more.[1]

The study analyzed data collected from accelerometers worn by 90,211 participants; one week of data was analyzed from each participant.[1] Researchers used the data to determine each participant’s physical activity level and, from there, correlated their physical activity with their cardiovascular health.

According to the study, people with high amounts of physical activity have roughly half the risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those with low amounts of physical activity.[1] While participants with the most exercise enjoyed the greatest benefits, any amount of regular exercise resulted in better cardiovascular health. Vigorous exercise corresponded with the best cardiovascular benefits, though moderate exercise also provided considerable benefits.

Regular exercise has long been promoted for its positive cardiovascular effects, and the Oxford University study further confirms those effects. Yet, just one in three American adults receives the recommended amount of physical activity each week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[2] So, how can we get more cardiovascular exercise?

Exercise Made Easy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends some excellent exercises that will specifically target your heart health.[3] Rigorous movements such as jogging, dancing, bicycling and swimming can help you reap the rewards of exercise. Everyday activities such as walking and gardening can be beneficial, too.

Muscle-strengthening exercises, such as weight lifting and pushups, also can improve your cardio health despite not being as specifically targeted to your cardiovascular system.[3]

Choose the level of exercise intensity that works for you. Light exercise requires almost no effort, whereas moderate-intensity exercise will push your body to work noticeably harder than usual. Vigorous exercise will force your body closer to its limits.

In order to exercise safely, it’s important to know your target heart rate — which varies by age — for each level of intensity. You can visit the Centers of Disease Control Website (CDC) for a handy guide to determining your target heart rate. [4] And, as always, consult with your doctor about how you can best maintain a safe, healthy exercise routine.

Stay Active, Stay Healthy

No matter what exercise you choose, it’s important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle as much as possible. Indeed, regular inactivity increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome, according to Harvard Medical School.[5] So, stay active and give your cardiovascular system — and your body in general — the care it deserves!