Moderate exercise better than intense physical activity

Thursday 26th October 2017
Could less really be more when it comes to physical activity? Image: vadimguzhva via iStock
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Moderate physical activity may be better for men than intense exercise, according to new research.

A study carried out by doctors from the University of Illinois in Chicago found that white men who exercise for seven-and-a-half hours or more each week are nearly twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than their counterparts who only do a moderate amount of exercise.

The investigation, which involved some 3,175 men over a period of 25 years, led to the discovery that white males who take part in intense physical activity are at greater risk of a build-up of plaque in their arteries over the long term, which can cause problems with blood flow to the heart.

As a result of this extra coronary artery calcification (CAC), these males are at a significantly increased risk of suffering a heart attack, which could prove fatal.

Overall, it was found that white men were 86 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with CAC by middle age than their black counterparts.

Further investigation is now being planned into why there is such a disparity in heart attack risk among people of different ethnicities and exactly what the optimum amount of exercise to do each week is.

Currently, the recommended level is 150 minutes each week, with study participants who did triple this significantly more likely to be suffering from CAC.

This finding surprised the researchers, who expected more exercise to mean less chance of CAC, so they want to delve further to find out why this is the case.

Study co-author Deepika Laddu commented: "Because the study results show a significantly different level of risk between black and white participants based on long-term exercise trajectories, the data provides rationale for further investigation, especially by race, into the other biological mechanisms for CAC risk in people with very high levels of physical activity."

Written by Mathew Horton

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