Exercise improves many factors that are associated with reduced risk of CVD by
lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL-C, and reducing triglyceride and LDL-C
levels. The CDC estimates that being sedentary increases the risk of coronary
heart disease by 1.5 to 2.4 times. The Council on Clinical Cardiology and the
Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism report that the most physically
active subjects studied generally have coronary artery disease rates half of
those of the most sedentary groups. A 2018 study found that those with below-average cardiorespiratory fitness were 40% more likely to die from any cause
than those with above-average fitness and mortality was five times greater among
those with low fitness compared to those with “elite” fitness.
Although both moderate and vigorous activities are beneficial to health, vigorous
activity is more beneficial and more cardioprotective. One estimate is that
running beats walking by a factor of 2:1 to 4:1 in mortality reduction at the same
amount of physical activity as measured by metabolic equivalents. Other, but not
all, studies have also shown greater reductions in CVDs are associated with vigorous-
intensity activities. One study found that the greatest cardiovascular disease
and all-cause mortality benefit occurred at three to five times the 2008 Physical
Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate
and/or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. The study also found that
there was no evidence of harm at 10 or more times the recommended minimum.157
Even low intensity activities that interrupt long sedentary periods are of benefit.
A study over 4.9 years among older women that measured periods of inactivity with
fitness trackers found that each hour of sedentary time was associated with a 12%
higher risk for CVD, and when sitting time was uninterrupted, the risk could be as
much as 54% higher. Both total length of sedentary time and long uninterrupted
bouts of sitting contributed to CVD risk, and both interruptions in bouts of sitting
and reduced total sedentary time reduced risk.
Studies suggest that maintaining heart and blood vessel health requires physical
activity four or five times a week—the usual changes with age will occur among
sedentary people or, to some extent, among casual exercisers who work out only
two or three times a week.
Some studies have found that the combination of a healthier diet and exercise has a
more profound influence on achieving a favorable blood lipid pattern that either diet
or exercise alone. Physical activity also helps to prevent obesity and diabetes,
both of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel