Any amount of exercise is good for you, but new research shows a lack of exercise can put you on a faster track to death from a heart attack.
While the relationship between exercise and heart health is well-known, a Danish study focused on a lesser-known aspect: how an active life versus a sedentary one affects the immediate course of heart attacks.
Using data about activity among more than 28,000 heart attack patients, the researchers categorized the patients’ leisure-time exercise into four categories from none to high. Adjustments were made for age, body mass index, diabetes, socioeconomic status and other factors.
About 17% of those in the study died within a month of their heart attack. A strong majority of them died instantly.
Overall, exercise appeared to work like a dose of medication: In an escalating fashion, the more frequently people exercised, the less often they died immediately or within a month of heart attacks. Those who did moderate or high amounts of exercise were 33% and 45% respectively less likely to die instantly of a heart attack than those who did not exercise.
There was some indication that even small amounts of exercise may be beneficial in warding off sudden heart attack death, although the researchers said more study is needed before drawing any firm conclusions.
What is an optimal level of exercise to lower your risk of sudden death from a heart attack? For healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity.
Even if you don’t live to work out, consider the benefits of working out to live.