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Men's Health

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Too Much Sitting and Heart Failure Risk for Men

Study found even exercise did not compensate for sedentary behavior


One expert praised the research.

"This is a nice paper showing the importance of physical activity to reduce the risk of heart failure," said Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, in New Orleans.

"Numerous studies suggest that low cardiorespiratory fitness is perhaps the strongest cardiovascular risk factor. Probably the strongest contributor to cardiorespiratory fitness is regular physical activity and exercise training, but there also is a genetic component," said Lavie. "If two people do exactly the same amount of physical activity and exercise, one may still do considerably better in a race or a fitness test due to better natural ability and genetics."

Lavie said the study could be further refined by having the men use a pedometer to track their physical activity. A treadmill test could be added as well, to test heart and lung fitness, he noted.

He suspects the results would be the same in women.

Young said that even when she and her colleagues looked at people who developed heart disease or high blood pressure during the study, they found that being more active was still good. "It was more likely to protect against heart failure for those who had those conditions."

For those with heart issues who want to increase their exercise, it's not too late, she said, although, "obviously they have to get a clearance from their physicians before changing their physical activity."

The take-home message is simple, Young said: Sit less, move more.

"It doesn't even require joining a gym," she said. "Walking is the best exercise for the majority of people. Brisk walking. Thirty minutes a day is wonderful."

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