Frequent Workouts Better For Heart

November 11, 1997

ORLANDO, Nov. 11 -- If you don't have time for a 30-minute workout each day, it may be just as good to divide the exercise time into several shorter-duration episodes a week of at least 10 minutes or longer, report scientists today at the American Heart Association's 70th Scientific Sessions.

That message comes from an evaluation of exercise habits of more than 22,000 men involved in a 12-year study of health behaviors of physicians. Researchers found that the risk of heart attack and death from heart disease declined steadily as the frequency of vigorous exercise increased from one to five times weekly. However, the benefits of physical activity did not increase further after 24 minutes per exercise period, says Claudia Chae, M.D., a research fellow at Brigham and Women's, who presented the findings at the meeting.

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack, but the relative importance of exercise frequency versus duration has remained unclear, says Chae.

In the study, men who exercised five or more times a week had 46 percent fewer heart attacks and a 44 percent lower risk of heart attacks and deaths due to heart disease, compared to men who exercised less often than once a week. During 12 years of follow-up, 716 non-fatal heart attacks occurred in the study, and 297 men died from heart disease, including fatal heart attacks. Chae and colleagues compared heart attack rate and heart disease deaths with the men's self-reported physical activity habits at the study entry and after three years.

Physical activity was defined in practical terms. "Literally, the men were asked how often they exercised vigorously enough to work up a sweat, and how long each exercise episode lasted," explains Chae.

The men were separated into four categories of exercise frequency: less than once a week, once a week, two to four times weekly, and five or more times a week. They also were separated into four categories of exercise duration: 10 minutes or less per episode, 11-24 minutes, 25-40 minutes, and more than 40 minutes per episode.

The risk of heart attack decreased by 36 percent among those who exercised one to two times a week, 38 percent for those who exercised more than three to four times a week, and 46 percent among men who exercised five or more times weekly. The combined risk of heart attack or death due to one or more heart attack decreased about the same amount.

The effect of exercise duration was greatest among men who worked out for 11- 24 minutes per exercise episode or longer. Men in that duration category had a 46 percent lower risk of heart attack and 35 percent lower combined risk of heart attack or death from heart disease, as compared to the men whose physical activity lasted 10 minutes or less. These benefits did not increase significantly for men who reported longer periods of physical activity.

"While frequency and duration of exercise both contribute to health benefits, these data suggest that how often a person exercises is a more important factor in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease," she says.

Since the study included only men, Chae says the specific results of the study are "not able to be generalized to women." However, the AHA recommends that men and women engage in physical activity on a regular basis.

The investigators calculated the benefits of exercise after statistically controlling for the effects of other factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, smoking, alcohol consumption and use of aspirin. However, one limitation of the study is that it is based on self-reported information. The participants didn't actually time each workout.

Chae says the findings are consistent with recommendations of the American Heart Association which encourage frequent workouts that last 30 minutes or longer for three-to-four days per week, or more often.The Physicians' Health Study (PHS), initiated in the mid-1980s, has been accumulating data on the health and health behaviors of 22,071 male physicians, ages 40-84 years old when the study began. All the men were free of heart disease and cancer at the study's outset.
-end-


American Heart Association

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.