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Lowering Disease Risk Through Exercise


The amount of exercise one needs is continually debated in both medical and lay literature. Some folks argue that more is better, while others state that just a small amount is needed. It actually comes down to why the exercises are being done. If you are training for a sporting event or planned physical activity, more exercise is likely better. If it is for disease prevention, moderate activity is likely sufficient. A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has shown that for disease prevention, particularly heart disease, strokes and blood clots in women, moderate activity does curtail risk.  This study looked at 1.1 million women in the United Kingdom with no history of cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, or diabetes. The average age of the women when the study started was 56 years. Compared to participants who reported little or no activity, women who performed moderate activity - defined as enough to cause sweating and a faster heartbeat, 2 to 3 times a week, were 20% less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. Among women who were more active (exercised more often or at greater intensity), no further risk reduction was noted.  This study is an excellent example of the fact that just getting out and moving to a moderate degree, a few times a week, does wonders for lowering your risk of disease. Do not avoid exercise because you feel you don’t have the time or ability to do it every day. Start with 2 to 3 times a week and lower your risk factors for disease.

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