NEW YORK – Exercising up to an hour a day can slash your risk of heart failure by nearly half, according to new research.
A Swedish study found that more than an hour of moderate exercise or half an hour of vigorous exercise can cut heart failure by 46 percent.
Published their findings in the journal Circulation: Heart, researchers found that the more active a person, the lower their risk of heart failure.
They added that taking the stairs rather than the lift, walking or cycling are simple steps to cut risk.
Heart failure prevents enough blood being pumped around the body at the right pressure and usually occurs because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly.
It affects more than 750,000 people in the UK, NHS figures show.
Risk of death within five years of diagnosis is 30 per cent to 50 per cent, researchers said.
The study looked at 39,805 people aged 20 to 90 who had no heart problems when the study began in 1997.
They assessed the amount of leisure time the participants enjoyed at the beginning of the study and compared it to their heart health.
They discovered that people who developed heart failure were older, male, had lower levels of education, a higher BMI and a history of heart attacks.
They were also more likely to have suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Lead researcher Dr Kasper Andersen, from Uppsala University in Sweden said even low levels of activity should be encouraged.
He said: ‘You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity – even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects.
‘Physical activity lowers many heart disease risk factors, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart failure as well as other heart diseases.’
He said that the problem of lack of activity could be tackled by making it easier for people to walk or cycle around.
He said: ‘The Western world promotes a sedentary lifestyle.
‘There are often no healthy alternative forms of transportation; in many buildings it is hard to find the stairs; and at home television and computers encourage sedentary behaviour.
‘Making it easier and safer to walk, bicycle or take the stairs could make a big difference. Our research suggests that everyone could benefit from getting out there and moving every day.’