HEART
April 1, 2008

Exercising Least and Needing It Most

People with coronary heart disease (CHD) are less likely than those without the disease to exercise regularly.
One of the simplest things that you can do to improve your cardiovascular health is to exercise regularly. Yet, according to a new study, the Americans who need exercise the most — those with coronary heart disease — exercise even less than those in good cardiovascular health.

[O]nly 32 percent of those with coronary heart disease engaged in the recommended levels of moderate activity and only 22 percent engaged in the recommended levels of vigorous physical activity.

Accepted medical guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days each week, and 20 or more minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 3 days per week.

Moderate activity would include such things as brisk walking, bicycling, housework, gardening, or anything else that causes a minor increase in the breathing or heart rate. More vigorous activities such as such running, aerobics, or heavy yard work cause large increases in breathing or heart rate.

The study, published in the March 1, 2008 American Journal of Cardiology, compared levels of physical activity reported by 24,496 adults with, and 272,649 adults without, coronary heart disease in 2005. Researcher Dr. Guixiang Zhao, of Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues found that only 32 percent of those with coronary heart disease engaged in the recommended levels of moderate activity and only 22 percent engaged in the recommended levels of vigorous physical activity.

On the other hand, 37 percent and 29 percent of individuals without coronary heart disease met recommended levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity.

"Intensive physical activity counseling is needed for patients with coronary heart disease to increase their physical activity levels if no contraindications to increased physical activity exist," the study concludes.
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