Being engaged in even small amounts of aerobic exercise and physical activity is effective in lowering the risk of developing heart disease, a new study says.
Harvard School of Public Health researchers did a meta-analysis on 33 previous studies to find the amount of physical activity and exercise needed to lower the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in inactive individuals.
The study found that people engaged in as low as 2.5 hours or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week have a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Moreover, increasing the time of weekly physical activity to 300 minutes reduces the risk of CHD by 20 percent, according to the report published in Circulation.
The findings also showed that being engaged in higher levels of physical activity is associated with modestly lower relative risks of heart disease.
The study results supported the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for the Americans, which recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise for health benefits.
"The overall findings of the study corroborate federal guidelines -- even a little bit of exercise is good, but more is better," said lead author Jacob Sattelmair.
"Early studies broke people into groups such as active and sedentary," he noted. "More recent studies have begun to assess the actual amount of physical activity people are getting and how that relates to the risk of heart disease."
"The biggest health benefits we saw were for those who went from doing nothing to those doing something small," he noted. "Even a little bit of activity makes a significant difference," Jacob concluded.