Every year, heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, exercise might be able to change that. In a new study published in the journal Circulation, researchers analyzed data from more than 500,000 people in the United Kingdom using the UK Biobank. Over the course of the six-year study, participants wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity and hand dynamometers to calculate their grip strength; they also completed a cycling test to discern their heart’s fitness level and self-reported their exercise activity.
“Regardless of your genetic risk, there is a benefit to being more physically active.” —Dr. Erik Ingelsson, study co-author
Researchers found that the simple act of exercising helped lower the participants’ risk of heart problems, even if they had a family history. For those who had an elevated risk, higher grip strength lowered the risk of heart disease by 36 percent and risk of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heartbeat) by 46 percent, compared to those who had weak grips, Time reports.
On top of that, for those who had a high genetic risk for heart disease, exercising regularly (AKA having a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness) lowered their risk by 49 percent and atrial fibrillation by 60 percent. “Regardless of your genetic risk, there is a benefit to being more physically active,” study co-author Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD, and professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, says.
While the study didn’t mention exactly how much exercise is required to yield these results, one study shows just 10 minutes of weekly sweat seshes makes you happier, and another says even working out just once a week decreases your mortality risk.
So, with research on the side of working out, it seems there’s never been a better time to lace up your sneakers and hit the gym. Your heart will thank you for it later.
This triple-threat combo could also lower your risk of heart disease. And here’s how happy thoughts can lead to better long-term health.
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