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Short walks 'cut heart failure risks'

19 August 2015 09:37

Walking for 20 minutes a day may cut heart failure risks

Walking for 20 minutes a day may cut heart failure risks

Older men could cut their risk of heart failure by taking up walking or cycling, research suggests.

But they do not have to go overboard; just 20 minutes of either exercise a day can reduce a 60-year-old man's chances of developing the condition by a fifth, it is believed.

The study also shows recent active behaviour has a bigger impact on heart failure risks than activity earlier in life.

Biggest reduction

Andrea Bellavia, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, led the analysis.

Her team monitored the progress of 33,000 Swedish men from 1998 to 2012.

They had to fill out a questionnaire asking them about their levels of exercise during the year prior to the study, plus they had to recall how active they were at the age of 30.

The least physically active were the most likely to develop heart failure, which occurs when the heart becomes too weak to pump sufficient blood around the body.

Walking or cycling for 20 minutes a day was associated with the biggest reduction in risk, even more so than heavy duty exercise.

The participants had an average age of 60, yet most were still active on a daily basis.

Age is just a number, after all, so you do not have to be young to have a good time.

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'U-shaped relationship'

Compared with moderate exercise levels, the research also suggests that both too little and too much activity increase the relative risk of heart failure.

Dr Christopher O'Connor, from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure, says this U-shaped relationship between exercise levels and the likelihood of subsequent heart failure is a unique finding.

He hopes it will stimulate further research in the important field of prevention in the coming years.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure published the findings.