A new study shows that moderate amount of physical activity, particularly walking and bicycling, can significantly lower the risk of heart failure.
The participants who had the lowest levels of physical activity had a 47 percent higher risk of heart failure while those with highest levels had 51 percent higher risk than men with a median level.
When analyzing the different types of physical activity, the study found that walking or bicycling for 20 minutes per day was associated with the largest risk reduction.
"We found that recent activity may be more important for heart failure protection than past physical activity levels. The first incidence of heart failure in men was also later for those who actively walked or bicycled 20 minutes each day," said study co-author Andrea Bellavia from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
When enrolling in the study, participants from two counties in Sweden completed a questionnaire about their level of activity at work, home, walking or bicycling, and exercise in the year prior at an average of 60 years old and retrospectively at 30 years old.
Researchers assigned each type of physical activity an intensity score and determined walking or bicycling just 20 minutes per day was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of heart failure.
They found that men who were active at 30 years old but were inactive at the time of study enrollment did not have a decreased risk of heart failure.
Heavy physical activity, such as long distance running, or manual labour may put stress on the body, which in turn has adverse effects on the heart.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure