Thirty minutes of exercise, five days a week, is the standard recommendation for heart health, according to the Heart Foundation and others. But a new study suggests that there's nothing special about that cut-off. If you want to be healthier, the only rule you need is: more is better.
Photo by Dave Wright.
The new analysis, published last month in Circulation, details a dose-response relationship between leisure time exercise and the risk of heart failure: The more you work out, the better off you are. Over 12 studies following 370,460 people, those who exercised at the recommended minimum level had 90 per cent as many heart failure events as sedentary folks. But with twice as much exercise, risk dropped to 81 per cent, and with quadruple, just 65 per cent.
The researchers measured exercise in terms of intensity as well as time, so exercising harder can substitute somewhat for exercising longer. The "moderate" exercise recommended in the minimums includes brisk walking and ballroom dancing, so if you run hills or do some extra badass water aerobics, that activity counts for more.
While any exercise is better than none, if you already have risk factors for heart disease the researchers say you should be aiming a lot higher than 30 easy minutes a day.