Adults should get 30 minutes a day of exercise, five days a week, according to The American Heart Association. These numbers are often taught religiously from a young age, and act as encouragement to get up and get active, maintain a healthy heart, and avoid heart disease.
But what if this tried and trusted recommendation doesn’t cut it? According to research published by the American Heart Association with help from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a half hour of moderate exercise, five days a week might not be enough for a healthy heart.
The recent study, published in the journal Circulation, took a deep dive into 12 previous studies. which in total researched almost 400,000 men and women of different ages and physical activeness. This study, which spanned a whopping 15 years, found that 20,203 individuals out of the research group experienced heart failure.
In order to conduct the study, the participants reported on their daily activity, allowing the team of researchers to come to the conclusion that participants who followed the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day only saw very modest reductions to their risk of heart failure.
According to the study, the participants that had a larger volume of exercise, revealed a 20 to 35% reduction. The conclusion showed “an inverse, dose-response relationship between physical activity and heart failure risk. Doses of activity in excess of the guideline recommended minimum physical activity levels may be required for more substantial reductions in heart failure risk.”
According to Men’s Health, the key to a decreasing your risk of heart disease lies not in the actual amount of time that you workout, but rather the intensity of the workouts that you are doing. So, if you’re hooked on short workouts and want to get the maximum hearth and health benefits, you may want to try bumping up the intensity. The underlying difference is how high you are getting your heart rate, and the overall benefits this will have on your health.
“Higher-intensity exercise does have a whole different impact on the body’s physiology,” cardiologist Eric Topol told Men’s Health. “Everything is more pronounced: your heart rate is higher, your blood vessels are more dilated, and you’re revving up your cardiovascular system as you would a car.”
However, this doesn’t mean that you should blow off moderate exercise. According to the Men’s Health article, a study published in Circulation also revealed that 2.5 hours of light exercise, like a nice walk or light hike, can reduce inflammation in your body; the key is to keep your heart rate over 120 beats per minute.
While many studies have been and continue to be conducted surrounding heart health, the key is to find a routine and stick to it. Often, people get wrapped up in a time frame, forgetting that what you are doing during your workout is much more important than the time period itself.
Try finding a schedule and sticking to it. If you don’t like afternoon lunch break workouts, maybe try going for a brisk walk during your lunch break. Walk 15 minutes away from your office, and 15 minutes back three days a week. Then, when hitting the gym either at night or in the morning, focus on getting your heart rate up — you are going to benefit much more from a short, intense workout, than a long, drawn-out workout.