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Walking Won't Prevent Heart Disease

Only Vigorous Exercise Prevents Premature Death

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Cardiologist Richard A. Stein say this study suggests that there is a threshold to how low you can go when it comes to reaping the benefits of exercise and physical activity.

"This is an interesting study that suggests that very slow walking or strolling does not afford much cardioprotective value," says Stein, who is chief of cardiology at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and a spokesman for the American Heart Association (AHA).

He says the light level of physical activity examined in this study falls well below the moderate-intensity exercise recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease. A brisk walk, for example, equates to about a mile per 15 minutes and burns about 100 calories per mile, which is about twice as fast as the rate mentioned in the study.

"Some exercise is better than none, but more is better than less. And more intensity is better than less intensity," Stein tells WebMD. "Many of the heart health gains can be achieved with moderate physical activity for 30 minutes five to seven days a week or moderately vigorous activity for 40 minutes three times per week."

Stein says people can determine their own level of moderate activity by asking themselves what their perceived level of exertion is while exercising on a scale from one to 10, with one being sitting in front of the TV and 10 being finishing a race. He says a self-reported rate of about 7 or 8 is a good level of exercise.

But the AHA recommends that people who are sedentary should gradually build up to a level of exercise and physical activity that is appropriate for them under a doctor's supervision.

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