Vigorous activity


Roundup: Big Health Boost From ‘Modest Amounts’ of Vigorous Activity; Higher Risk Linked to Hypertension and This Type of Bad Cholesterol; and More News

Study: Quick Bursts of Intense Physical Activity in Daily Living Can Help You Live Longer

A few bursts of “vigorous physical activity” every day – such as dashing up stairs or accelerating your pace considerably a few times over the course of walking – could lower your risk of early death from heart disease and cancer, according to new research that adds to previous findings on the benefits of intensity workouts.

“Our study is the first investigation, to the best of our knowledge, into the long-term health effects of non-exercise VPA (vigorous physical activity) embedded into daily living,” state authors of the new study, published in Nature Medicine. “We found consistent evidence of beneficial associations of relatively modest amounts of VILPA (vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity).”

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia reviewed data from fitness trackers collected by UK Biobank, a large medical database with health information from residents across the United Kingdom. They examined the date of more than 25,000 people who did not regularly exercise, with an average age at about 60, and followed them over the course of almost seven years.

Those who took part in bursts of intense activity of about one to three minutes at least three times a day, such as speed-walking or quickly climbing stairs, had a nearly 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality risk and a about a 40 percent decrease in the risk of dying from cancer – and all causes of mortality, compared with those who did no daily vigorous activities.

The new study’s authors said previous studies have shown that “high-intensity interval training and intermittent stair climbing have shown that VPA (vigorous physical activity) bursts lasting 20 seconds to a few minutes, performed three to five times a day, can result in substantial improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness in previously inactive adults within a few weeks.”

The new study is considered more accurate because of the use of fitness trackers. It is also the first to specifically focus on VILPA, which refers to brief and sporadic (for example, up to 2 or 3 minutes) of vigorous-intensity physical activity “done as part of daily living, such as bursts of very fast walking while commuting to work or moving from place to place, or stair climbing,” the study’s authors said.

The study focused on daily activities – not daily or weekly exercise routines. For overall health, each week adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, and two days of muscle strengthening activity, according to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.


Hypertension -- Combined with This Type of ‘Bad Cholesterol’ -- Can Raise Your Heart Disease Risk, Research Finds

High levels of lipoprotein(a), a type of “bad” cholesterol, may be linked with a 24 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease in people who have hypertension, says new research published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

Lipoproteins carry cholesterol through the blood. The subtypes of lipoproteins include low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a). Much like LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein(a) may deposit and build up in the walls of blood vessels, which can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The new findings are based on health data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), an ongoing U.S. study in the U.S. of subclinical cardiovascular disease—which means the disease is discovered before there are signs and symptoms. MESA began in 2000 and involves nearly 7,000 adults. Researchers continue to monitor the participants in six locations across the U.S.

The latest finding of a higher risk of cardiovascular disease stemmed from 6,674 MESA participants who had lipoprotein(a) levels and blood pressure assessed -- and for whom there was documented cardiovascular disease data throughout follow-up exams. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In this study, hypertension was defined as a top number of 140 mmHg or higher, a bottom number of 90 or mmHg or the use of blood pressure medication.

“We found that the overwhelming amount of cardiovascular risk in this diverse population appears to be due to hypertension. Additionally, individuals with hypertension had even higher cardiovascular risk when lipoprotein(a) was elevated,” stated lead study author Rishi Rikhi, M.D., M.S., a cardiovascular medicine fellow at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in a statement.

In its news release on the study, the American Heart Association (AHA) states that everyone can improve their cardiovascular health by following the AHA’s Life’s Essential 8: Eating healthy food, being physically active, not smoking, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and controlling cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.


Most People with Heart Disease Don’t Use Wearable Monitoring Devices, New Research Says

People with cardiovascular disease who would benefit the most from wearing health tracking devices, such as smart watches and fitness bands, may be using them the least, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022.

Wearable devices monitor and track health or physical activity. They also help to manage cardiovascular health more effectively, with features like physical activity monitoring, heart-rate tracking, and heart electrical activity tracing. Only 18 percent of all people with cardiovascular disease, and 26 percent of all people at risk for cardiovascular disease are using these devices, the researchers found.

Another finding: Only 12 percent of people with cardiovascular disease older than 65 years of age used wearable devices, even though it is estimated half of all people with cardiovascular disease are older than age 65. Researchers also found that age, education and income are factors associated with less use of these wearable devices among people with and at risk for cardiovascular disease.

We may be able to use artificial intelligence with health information from wearable devices to help people reduce their risk of heart disease,” said study lead author Lovedeep S. Dhingra, M.B.B.S., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cardiovascular Data Science (CarDS) Lab at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “Given these benefits, it is crucial to understand who is using these devices.”

Researchers reviewed health information of 9,303 adults in the U.S. who responded to the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) in 2019-2020. They focused on participants with cardiovascular disease or who had risk factors, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, smoking or obesity. They evaluated participants’ responses in the survey, and whether they had used a wearable device to track their physical activity or health in the last 12 months.

More than 80 percent of participants at risk for cardiovascular disease responded that they would be willing to share the health information collected by their wearable device to improve their healthcare.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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