Light Exercise May Be Enough to Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Death
There’s been a growing appreciation that you don’t have to sweat it out at the gym or run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Light exercise, such as walking briskly or playing catch with friends, may be enough to reduce the risk of heart disease and death, a study suggests. People who replace sedentary time with light activity have a 24% lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease and an 11% lower risk of death overall, researchers report in the current issue of JAMA Network Open.
The scientists analyzed data on more than 6,000 people over age 65 who wore accelerometers to measure their movements. Those who did the most light exercise had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, and those who replaced their sedentary time with light activity had the lowest risk of dying from all causes. But the researchers say their results don’t prove causation. For example, some people may be more active because they have healthier lifestyles than others, or they may be able to walk farther because they have cars or live nearer to shopping malls. The scientists are continuing to analyze their data in hopes of finding ways to improve how they can help people get more exercise without needing to go to a gym.
It isn’t always easy to get enough light exercise, and some people aren’t accustomed to the idea of exercise not being about working up a sweat. But it’s important for everyone to try, especially because sitting too much is bad for health and can contribute to obesity. Even if you can’t do vigorous workouts, “it’s much better to get up and move around than to sit and watch TV,” says the coauthor of the study, Bradley Cardinal, who is a co-director of the Sport and Exercise Psychology Program at Oregon State University.
He notes that it is important to understand that the amount of light activity a person gets doesn’t have much relationship to how hard they are working or what their health outcomes might be. “Self-reporting of exercise is notoriously unreliable,” he says. “People are notorious for overestimating how much they exercise, and underestimating the intensity of their exercises.” He says it’s best to know your own intensity by taking your pulse while exercising. To do so, place the first three fingers of one hand against the thumb side of the other, and lightly press your finger against the hollow just next to the tendon on the thumb-side. The artery lies just underneath that.
If you want to know your approximate heart rate, you can use a digital fitness tracker or ask a friend who knows how to do it. (Be careful not to press too hard, as that could hurt.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts physical activity on a spectrum, with light exercise at one end, moderate intensity at the other and vigorous exercise at the top of the range.
To find out whether your current routine is a good fit for you, talk to your doctor. It’s particularly important to have a conversation with your doctor about how any medications you take might affect your reaction to exercise. sahabatqq link