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Scientists say a brisk walk this long every day can help prevent heart failure

Scientists have found that moderate-intensity exercise such as a stroll each week is enough to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and stroke.

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Middle age sportswoman asking for health care holding heart at the park
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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

A brisk daily 25-minute walk is enough to stave off heart failure, according to a new study.

Scientists have found that 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as a stroll each week is enough to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and stroke.

Meanwhile, 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week also cuts the risk- but only by three per cent more.

Researchers found people who did between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate exercise in a week had a 63 percent lower risk of developing heart failure, compared to couch potatoes who did barely any exercise.

Exercise enthusiasts who did 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity in a week were at a 66 percent lower risk of developing heart failure.

People who walk for up to 500 minutes a week can reap even bigger benefits.

While similar findings have been made in previous studies, the authors say theirs is among the first to show the link still holds up independently of demographic, lifestyle and existing risk factors.

People with risk factors for heart problems- such as being overweight, having high blood pressure and having high blood sugar and cholesterol levels- would particularly benefit from exercising more, the authors say.

Study co-lead author Dr. Frederick Ho, of the University of Glasgow, said: “These findings indicate that every physical movement counts.

“A leisurely, 10-minute walk is better than sitting and no physical activity.

“If possible, try to walk a little faster, which increases the intensity and potential benefits of exercise.

“Generally, moderate physical activity is easier to incorporate into daily routines, and it’s generally safer.

“Vigorous physical activity is sometimes the most time-efficient and may be more suitable for busy people.

“However, caution is advised for all when beginning a new physical activity regimen to prevent injuries or acute adverse events, such as a heart attack in a formerly sedentary person initiating a vigorous exercise program.”

For the study, the team analyzed the health records of almost 100,000 Brits aged 37 to 73 whose health data is stored in the UK Biobank- a large database containing health information on half a million people. Participants were enrolled between 2006 and 2010.

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(Cast Of Thousands via Shutterstock)

Between 2013 and 2015, 94,739 participants were randomly invited via email to enroll in the study. The average age of participants was 56, while 57 percent of them were women and 96 percent were white.

None of them had ever had a heart attack before they began taking part in the study.

Each participant wore a wrist accelerometer for seven consecutive days, 24 hours per day, to measure the intensity and duration of physical activity.

Follow-up data were collected through linked hospital and death records and people were followed up for six years on average.

Risk reductions were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic conditions, smoking, alcohol intake and diet.

Dr. Ho added: “There are many potential ways that regular physical activity may reduce the risk of developing heart failure.

“For example, physical activity helps prevent weight gain and related cardiometabolic conditions, such as high blood pressure and Type two diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart failure.

“Regular physical exercise may also strengthen the heart muscle, which, in turn, may prevent heart failure from developing.

“We found that moderate physical activity has the potential increased cardiovascular risk benefits up until 500 minutes per week.”

Study co-author Dr. Naveed Sattar said: “Our findings add to the overwhelming body of other evidence, suggesting that maintaining even a modest amount of regular physical activity can help prevent a range of chronic conditions from developing, including heart failure.”

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition that develops when the heart is not capable of pumping enough blood to keep up with the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

It can result in fatigue and difficulty breathing.

The condition affects just under a million Brits, according to the British Heart Foundation.

The researchers caution that their study is observational cannot prove a cause-and-effect link between the amount and intensity of physical activity and the risk of developing heart failure.

They add that because participants in the U.K. Biobank are overwhelmingly white, further studies are needed to confirm that these results apply to non-white people.

The findings were published in the journal Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

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