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We’ve all heard that exercise is good for our hearts, but how good is it? A new study, published in the journal Lancet, may answer that question. For nearly seven years, researchers followed more than 130,000 people, ages 35 to 70, from 17 low- to high-income countries. This is what they learned about exercise and cardiovascular disease.


Minutes per week of “moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity” that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for people 18 to 64 to lower risk of death, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression. Researchers used this number as their baseline for the study.


Percentage of the world’s population estimated to be insufficiently active to maintain their health by not meeting the WHO’s 150-minutes-per-week recommendation.


Percentage of decreased risk for major cardiovascular events in participants who exercised a minimum of 150 minutes weekly. Benefits from exercise (and a decreased risk of heart-related deaths from higher levels of physical activity) were seen across all countries, regardless of income levels. Cardiovascular disease ranks No. 1 among leading causes of death worldwide.


Estimated percent-age of all deaths worldwide that could be prevented if everyone met physical-activity recommendations. Researchers believe this could also avert 4.6 percent of all cardiovascular disease events.

“Increasing physical activity is a simple, widely applicable, low-cost global strategy that could reduce deaths and cardiovascular disease in middle age.” — Lancet study authors

This originally appeared as “Heart-Healthy Exercise” in the March 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

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