It has long been theorized by many individuals in and around the health community that physical activity holds a whole host of benefits influencing a person's cardiovascular well-being.

That said, a surprisingly small amount of credible data has been readily available regarding the correlation between exercise and heart failure, a condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood decreases consistently over time until it cannot meet the needs of the body. A study led by Swedish researchers that was published in the journal Circulation, though, suggests that regular exercise could reduce one's risk of heart failure by nearly one half.

The study

The study, led by Kaspar Andersen and a team of researchers from the Uppsala University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, began in 1997 and ran for over a decade before coming to a close in 2010. According to The Daily Mail, the experiment involved following the medical history of over 39,800 individuals who had no significant heart problems when the study began in 1997. The researchers had each individual answer a series of questions regarding what they chose to do with their leisure time. Throughout the 13-year span of the study, Andersen and his colleagues periodically measured aspects of these individuals' lifestyles, with a particular emphasis on how much of their leisure time was dedicated to physical activity or exercise. The scientists also kept track of heart-failure diagnoses among their sample population until the study officially ended on Dec. 31, 2010.


What they found is certainly worth taking note of, though it's not particularly surprising. The subjects in their study who ultimately developed heart failure tended to have lower levels of education and higher body mass indexes, and they spent an inordinately high amount of leisure time engaging in sedentary activities on a daily basis.

Upon compiling all of their research, Andersen and his colleagues determined that individuals who spent 60 minutes on moderate exercise or 30 minutes on vigorous exercise each day had a 46 percent lower risk of developing heart failure. According to Prevention magazine, moderate exercise includes walking, while vigorous exercise entails running or other fast-paced aerobic activity.

Moving forward

These findings are of particular importance to anyone concerned for their heart health, as the study also explained that those diagnosed with heart failure have a 30 to 50 percent risk of death within five years of its onset.

In speaking with The Daily Mail, Andersen elaborated that the exercise engaged in for heart health need not be an ordeal. Rather, he explained that attempting to be more active in small ways throughout all aspects of your daily life would be beneficial.

"You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity—even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects," Andersen told The Daily Mail. "Making it easier to walk, bicycle, or take the stairs could make a big difference. Our research suggests that everyone could benefit from getting out there and moving every day."