A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and Boston Children’s Hospital has found that exercise can be effective for raising the heart rate, lowering the risk of stroke and improving quality of life in adults.
“Exercise is an excellent tool for reducing heart rate variability and raising overall cardiovascular health,” lead author David Rieger told Business Insider.
“There’s a lot of literature that says exercise improves heart health, but not as much of a benefit as you’d expect.”
“The heart rate increases we see with exercise are more consistent with people’s fitness and lifestyle than they are with other activities,” Riegers said.
“We think exercise is a better predictor of cardiovascular health than other measures.”
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, was conducted to find out if exercise interventions like those we recommend could improve cardiovascular health and lower risk factors in adults, such as obesity, blood pressure, and diabetes.
Participants were randomly assigned to exercise or not.
Participants then spent up to two hours a week doing 10 different exercises, which ranged from a moderate to vigorous exercise routine.
“We found that when we measured participants’ heart rates, we saw that exercise was associated with significantly lower levels of both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and systolic blood pressure in people with hypertension,” said Rieges.
“People who performed exercise at moderate intensity had significantly lower blood pressure and high-dyslipidemic risk markers than those who did not.”
“Our study showed that exercise is an effective way to reduce cardiovascular risk in adults,” Riesger continued.
“In addition to reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, exercise can also help people improve their quality of sleep, maintain their physical activity levels and manage chronic diseases.”
Riegers and his colleagues followed more than 2,000 adults ages 20 to 44 for up to six months, with a total of about 4,000 participants.
They measured participants by heart rate and blood pressure at the beginning of the study and followed them throughout the study.
“The key finding from this study is that exercise interventions may be effective in reducing cardiovascular risk factors and reducing risk for stroke in adults who are overweight or obese,” said study lead author Julie Mennel, a doctoral candidate in the UCSF Department of Public Health and Community Health.
“However, we also found that there was a significant decrease in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels and a decrease in fasting insulin levels that were associated with increased risk for the development of stroke in people who did exercise at very low intensity.”
High-intensity exercise was linked to a reduction in both high levels of HDL cholesterol and high levels (between 2 and 5 mg/dL) of LDL cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol that helps your body make cholesterol-lowering cholesterol medication and also helps keep your body in a state of high energy metabolism.
This type of exercise is recommended for people with a high blood pressure or a high BMI, both of which can increase the risk for heart disease.
Rieger said that while the researchers did not find any differences between the two groups on markers related to heart disease or stroke, there were a few other key findings.
“When we measured people’s heart rate during exercise, we found that the people who performed the exercise at moderately intensity had lower fasting insulin and elevated fasting glucose,” he said.
“This is a key finding because it suggests that the exercise may be beneficial for reducing blood pressure.”
The researchers also found a relationship between exercise and a reduction of both heart rate of exercise-induced hypertension and heart rate changes.
“High-density-lipoprotein cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease risk, particularly in people whose fasting insulin is above 3.3 mg/dl,” said Mennell.
“When people with elevated fasting insulin are at risk for cardiovascular diseases, we have a compelling reason to recommend moderate exercise to prevent heart disease and stroke.”
Participants in the study were randomly selected for the study by a computer algorithm that took into account their age, body mass index (BMI), and the participants’ race, ethnicity, gender, smoking status, physical activity, and education.
Those who did moderate-intensity activity had lower blood pressures than those not doing moderate-impact exercise, while people who exercised at moderate-intermediate intensity had higher blood pressure than those in the control group.
“In addition, the results suggest that moderate-intensive exercise interventions might be helpful in improving health and quality of daily life in people at high risk for high blood pressures,” Rieggers said, adding that the results also suggest that exercise should be included in the regular exercise program.
“Our findings provide a rationale for using exercise to improve cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular health in people of all ages and ethnicities,” Riess added.
“This is an important step toward preventing