FEB 29, 2016 1:09 PM PST

Being Physically Fit Improves Your Recovery After A Heart Attack

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Typically people know that exercising is a healthy activity to do regularly, along with eating fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. Exercise is also closely studied for its ability to help people survive heart attacks. In a new study in the American Journal of Medicine, scientists are still examining exercise habits and heart attacks, but this time they are focusing on a patient’s history of exercise and its connection to their health in the weeks, months, and years following a heart attack. 

In this study, scientists consider a patient to be “physically active” if they are exercising at least 150 minutes a week at “moderate intensity” or 75 minutes per week at “high intensity.” Using data from a 120,000-person study from the Nord-Trøndelag HUNT studies that collected data during three periods, 1984-86, 1995-97 and 2006-08, scientists were able to draw conclusions about exercise habits and post-heart attack health.

Depression is three times as likely for heart attack survivors as it is for people who never have a heart attack. However, for people who have had a heart attack, they are less likely to develop depression if they are physically fit when their heart attack occurs.

Of the 120,000 participants in the heart attack and physical activity study, 17 percent of people who never exercised reported being depressed by the end of the study. Only 7.5 percent of people who identified as consistent exercisers developed depression. Inconsistent exercisers fell in between those two statistics. 

The results from the study show clear the impact of exercise on heart health after heart attack, especially in terms of mental health. As scientists continue to study heart health and connections to exercise, they expect more benefits to arise for people who exercise regularly. 

"It's never too late to start exercising," said lead author Linda Ernstsen, PhD.

Source: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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