How much you exercise may be more important than how hard you exercise in terms of heart health, according to a study of sedentary overweight men and women. And, many will be happy to hear, exhaustive amounts of exercise are not needed for heart health.
In journal CHEST, researchers from North Carolina report that people who walk briskly for 12 miles per week or for about 125 to 200 minutes per week will significantly improve their aerobic fitness and lower their risk of developing heart disease.
"Anything beyond walking briskly for 12 miles per week, whether increasing your intensity or the amount of miles, has additional benefits," Brian D. Duscha from Duke University Medical Center in Durham who was involved in the research said. "So there is a separate and combined effect."
He also emphasized that the 12-miles-per-week walkers in the study improved their fitness without losing any weight. "People need to know: even without losing weight, you are getting significant benefits by exercising --- you're improving your fitness level, decreasing fat and increasing muscle and improving your lipid panel --- so don't stop exercising," Duscha said. [Reuters Health, Oct 10 2005]
When it comes to exercise, it's the amount, not the intensity that matters most. You may not lose weight readily, but the benefits for your heart continues, as long as you exercise.
What's a 12-mile walk? That's around 20 kilometers. Walk, run, jog, whatever you do, don't stop exercising. It's several times better than popping a pill.