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Exercise linked to heart health regardless of lifestyle factors

Cite Magazine

A recent study by Curtin University researchers found that regardless of lifestyle factors such as smoking, cholesterol and abdominal obesity, exercise can significantly protect against heart disease.

“We knew that physical activity played a role in preventing cardiovascular disease” says Curtin School of Public Health’s Professor Satvinder Dhaliwal, “but we wanted to see how much of a role it played – could a lack of it stand separate as a contributing factor for CVD or was it part of other common lifestyle factors such as obesity?”

Through an extensive 15-year study, the researchers found that those with a higher level of fitness or conditioning had smaller occurrences of cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to those who engaged in less exercise. Even moderate exercise could reduce the risk of CVD by 15 percent.

“An activity that makes you breathe hard or pant, results in 65 per cent less chance of dying from CVD and the greater the range and intensity of the exercise, the more the benefit,” says Professor Dhaliwal. 

“The research demonstrated that leading a sedentary lifestyle puts pressure on your heart and dieting alone won’t ward off heart problems, with even slim people being at risk.”

As a result of this research, the researchers recommend an increased public health focus on physical activity. The research was published in the PLOS One medical journal and featured in The New York Times online.