Exercise is crucial to our health—it keeps us closer to an ideal body weight, boosts brain function, and of course, helps to keep our cardiovascular system as healthy as can be. And it turns out, being in better physical health may also improve the chances of surviving a heart attack, new research suggests.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Henry Ford Health System, in Detroit, and Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, and published in the current issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that the more often people exercise, the better equipped they’ll be at surviving a heart attack.
The researchers looked at data from more than 2,000 adults who’d taken exercise stress tests prior to having a heart attack. Most of the subjects were in their early 60s.
“Most were in their early 60s and fewer than half were women,” reports CBS News. “Something about being fitter prior to the heart attack helped protect people when measured one month, three months, and one year after it happened,” CBS News reports. “The average time between the stress test and the heart attack was about six years.”
The benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system are already well established; numerous studies support this claim. But this study is among the first of its kind to link higher levels of fitness to a reduced risk of death from a heart attack.
Not only that, but the fit patients who survived the heart attack also maintained a higher level of fitness post-attack, and that also improved their prognosis for avoiding future heart attacks.
Su just how much exercise does one need to keep their body healthy enough to survive a heart attack? There’s no hard and fast rule about it, but the researchers suggest 75 minutes of intense cardio activity per week, such as running, a spin class, or other vigorous physical activity. If “vigorous” isn’t how you approach your workouts, then aim for 150 minutes of more moderate exercise—a yoga class, a leisurely hike or bike ride.
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