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Any Amount of Physical Activity Is Good For Overweight Adults

More evidence that there are health benefits from physical activity, even minimal amounts. Ohio State University researchers found that physical activity, even 10 minute at a time physical activity or exercise, adds up and is associated with lower amounts of cardiovascular (heart) disease in the next ten years - even for obese and overweight persons.

Being overweight or obese are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. About 40% of Americans are obese and 32% are overweight, so having a way to simply and cheaply lower rates of cardiovascular disease is wonderful. Overweight is body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 to 29.9, obesity is BMI 30 or higher, and normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.8 (see CDC guidelines)

The researchers found that physical activity is more important than weight of a person in determining the risk of cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years. Unfortunately 43% of the overweight participants and 53% of the obese participants reported being sedentary (did not engage in at least 10 minutes of continuous physical activity each week) - and these groups had the highest risk of cardiovascular disease.

What counts as exercise or physical activity? Physical activity should be at least 10 continuous minutes or more, and ideally add up to 150 minutes or more each week. All moderate (e.g. brisk walking, light yard work, vacuuming, dancing) and vigorous (e.g. jogging, swimming laps, aerobics, heavy yard work) recreation activities count. The study found that engaging in less than 150 minutes a week also lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease, just not as much as for those with 150 minutes or more each week.

Government guidelines: The Physical Activity Guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

Bottom line: Try to move, move, move as much as possible! Yes, a nice 20 minute (1 mile) walk counts!

From Medical Xpress: Not much exercise needed to lower heart disease risk for overweight people

A new study suggests, for obese or overweight adults, that any amount of exercise might lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. 

The study, published earlier this month in the journal PLOS ONE, found that exercise of any volume might lower the risk by as much as half among obese or overweight adults. People whose weight fell into the "normal" range—having a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9—who completed at least 150 minutes of exercise a week had lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

"This shows that increasing physical activity even a small amount, as little as 10 minutes at a time, is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease—for example, a 30-minute walk has the same benefits as completing three 10-minute walks," said Xiaochen Zhang, lead author of the study and a doctoral student studying epidemiology at The Ohio State University. 

The study examined data from more than 22,000 people ages 30 to 64 collected over a 10-year period from 2007 to 2016. About a third of those people were classified as "overweight," having a body mass index of 25 to 29.9. A little more than a third were classified as "obese," with a BMI of more than 30. The final third fell into the "normal" range.

The dataset, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included self-reported physical activity levels, broken down into three categories: no exercise at all, exercising for one to 149 minutes per week, or exercising for more than 150 minutes per week.

Zhang and her co-authors evaluated that data and found that an obese adult who completed 150 or more minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise each week had 50 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 10 years. But by exercising for even a short period of time—10 minutes at a time, Zhang said—the risk dropped by 34 percent.

An overweight adult who exercised any amount at all had 47 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease; if that same adult exercised more than 150 minutes a week, the risk dropped by 52 percent.

The analysis showed that overweight and obese adults were more likely to have a high 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease compared with adults whose BMIs were less than 25—something previous studies have documented.

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