The fact that exercise benefits the heart and can help a person live a longer healthier life is well established. Exercising regularly can improve quality of life and help a person live longer while avoiding chronic conditions. Few studies, though, have looked at the ways that exercise can benefit a person who already has developed cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers from Seoul National University set out to do just that.
Researchers compared the effects of exercise on a healthy group with those of a group with pre-existing CVD. The study took data from 441,798 participants as part of the Korean National Health Insurance Services Health Screening Cohort. Of the participants, 131,558 had pre-existing CVD. All of the participants were 40 or older, with an average participant age of 60. Participants provided info on their activity levels through surveys. Activity counted did not include daily tasks like housework but was instead of limited to aerobic exercise.
Researchers had access to six years of follow up data on participants. What they found was that those with cardiovascular disease experienced more significant improvements in health measures than did healthy persons. The benefits for those with CVD where doubled, with healthy individuals seeing a 7% reduction in premature death risk while those with CVD saw a 14% reduction.
Although scientists are not exactly sure why those with CVD derive greater benefits, it is thought that it may be due, in part, to exercise's ability to regulate blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. Those with CVD also have a higher level of systemic inflammation, which exercise helps to reduce.
Achieving the level of fitness required is not out of reach even for those with busy lifestyles. A simple walk on a treadmill, a trail, or just outside one's home for a half-hour, five days a week is sufficient. Persons may also choose cycling, swimming, paddling, or any of an extensive list of activities that raise heart rate.
Adults of all ages should strive to meet these guidelines whether or not they have cardiovascular disease. This can help benefit a person's life through primary or secondary prevention of chronic illnesses and in that way, improve a person's life.