Exercising may be as beneficial to those with genetic links to heart disease to those without. A new study, pulling data from the UK Biobank project, claims that it doesn't matter if you have an elevated genetic risk for heart disease — staying active will help improve your chances of avoiding it.
Heart disease remains the number 1 cause of death for men and women in the United States, killing over 700,000 people each year. These include cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks, strokes, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, and many others. Most of these conditions, if not all, involved blocked arteries or vessels in some form or another.
Exercise Lowers Heart Disease Risk, No Matter What Your Genes Say
The study, published in Circulation observed more than 500,000 men and women of various ages and races in Europe and followed them for about six years. All had genetic risks for heart disease, and some even had other risk factors on top of it, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
The most active participants, despite their high risk due to genetics, had 50 percent less risk of having cardiovascular complications. This was also true of the other participants who had either low or moderate risk for heart disease based on genetics.
"Fitness and physical activity demonstrated inverse associations with incident cardiovascular disease in the general population, as well as in individuals with elevated genetic risk for these diseases," the researchers conclude.
They assessed associations of grip strength, objective and subjective physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness with cardiovascular ailments among participants in the UK Biobank.
"It's clear that exercise is good for us and it is good for heart health," said principal researcher Erik Ingelsson, of the Stanford University School of Medicine. "Both aerobic exercise and strength training are beneficial, and they are likely to have good effects regardless of genetic risk."
Essentially, the study suggests that exercise is still one of the best ways to prevent heart disease — regardless of what your genes tell you.
Of course, there's no set number of hours for physical activity one needs to partake in to keep their heart healthy, but the American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity for up to four times a week to prevent a heart attack or a stroke. Living a healthy lifestyle, which involves avoiding smoking and choosing healthier food options, also helps a great deal.