While the total amount of exercise is important--more being better--new study findings suggest that turning your exercise intensity up a notch can lower the risk of heart disease in men even further.
And running, weight training, rowing and brisk walking seem particularly helpful for heart health.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston followed a group of 44,452 men aged 40 to 75 from 1986 to 1998. Every 2 years all of the men were surveyed about exercise habits and heart health.
Men who reported running for an hour or more per week were found to have a 42% lower risk of heart disease compared with men who did not run.
And men who pumped iron for at least 30 minutes each week had a 23% reduced risk of heart disease compared with those who did not partake in weight training.
Those who spent an hour or more each week rowing had an 18% reduced risk of heart disease, the report indicates.
What's more, the men who exercised at a moderate or high level had a 6% and 17% lower heart disease risk, respectively, compared with men who engaged in low intensity exercise.
Even a half-hour each day of "brisk walking" was associated with an 18% decrease in coronary heart disease risk.
While studies have had conflicting results on the heart benefits of walking, the investigators found that only the most rapid pace reduced the risk of heart disease.
The new findings suggest that while moderate exercise like brisk walking is associated with reduced risk, greater risk reduction can be obtained with more intense exercise.
This study is the first to find a significant reduction in heart attack risk with weight training.
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