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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.

150

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.

23%

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.

20%

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.

8%

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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