Monday, October 29, 2012

How much physical activity should I get?


How much physical activity should I get?


That depends. 
Exercise is good for everyone.

But first, let’s use the term physical activity here.
Physical activity appears to not be so bad a word as exercise.
It seems very few people want to exercise but many more are willing to be physically active.

In general, the more physical activity you get, the better. And all adults should avoid being inactive. The American Heart Association strongly endorses this view.

Perhaps the most evidence for benefit from physical activity relates to the risk of coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease causes about 1 in every 6 deaths in the United States
Of course, there are other forms of heart disease such as heart failure but coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.

Coronary heart disease causes heart attacks.
The medical term for heart attack is myocardial infarction.


Okay, so how much physical activity should you get to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease?

A recent analysis of 33 studies appears to confirm that the more leisure time physical activity, the lower the risk of heart disease. All of these studies were epidemiologic studies not randomized controlled trials. Randomized controlled trials would be better but for many reasons are not possible to address this question.

So in this analysis, a 14% reduction in risk of heart disease was seen in those who had engaged in about 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. That risk compares to those who are inactive.

Double that amount of activity and the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced about 20% as compared to inactive persons.

And those who already have coronary heart disease appear more likely to survive if they participate in a cardiac rehabilitation exercise program.

So what is moderate intensity physical activity?

Brisk walking like walking 2 miles in 30 minutes, or bicycling, raking leaves, gardening or sex with your usual partner are examples of moderate physical activity. See this link for other options.

And physical activity helps in so many other ways

So start moving, stay active and stay well.

Daniel Weiss MD CDE FACP PNS CPI

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