(NaturalNews) A piece of good news for those suffering from heart disease was revealed by recent research carried out at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, which found that exercising just once every week can help improve their life expectancy.
It is common knowledge that exercise is necessary for good health. What is not so easily agreed upon, is how much exercise is actually needed, and whether vigorous exercise is necessary. Some experts also say that certain groups of people may not be suitable for exercise.
For persons with established coronary heart disease (CHD), being encouraged to be physically engaged in order to fight the development of their condition is nothing new. But the question was always how much exercise they would actually need.
Details of Study
The said study looked at data collected in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). For that study, some 3,500 men and women with CHD were tracked for a total of 18 years.
The HUNT is a population-based study which commenced in 1984 in the county of Nord-Trøndelag in Norway, which has a population of about 130,000. Over 100,000 people were said to have participated in the HUNT. The fact that such a significant proportion of the county's population was involved in the study greatly raises the value of the HUNT.
The HUNT is said to be a goldmine of information for researchers. It collaborates with national and international research organizations on significant health issues which the world faces today, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental illness, musculoskeletal disease, as well as obesity.
In addition, it has collated extensive information pertaining to medical, lifestyle and environmental factors, comprising some 800 exposure variables and almost 3,000 different variables for each individual.
"We have extensive data from the population of Nord-Trøndelag through three comprehensive health surveys in 1984-86, 1995-97 and 2006-2008. The homogeneous and stable population of Nord-Trøndelag is a unique source of health information and biological material," said Professor Kristian Hveem from the Faculty of Medicine in NTNU, who is also the director of HUNT biobank.
"The fact that already in 1984 we collected health information and exposure data, then repeated this ten and twenty years later, enables us to establish some causal relationship between this early information and clinical disease outcome as exemplified in this study on coronary heart patients."
"It is satisfactory to see that the data we collected in 1984 are still a very valuable resource in research today. Also, in the most recent collection of HUNT data, completed in June 2008, we have applied a strict QA-protocol to make sure that the collected biological material has the best quality. This ensures its applicability for a wide variety of analyses in the years to come," added Professor Hveem.
Findings of Study
According to Trine Moholdt, a PhD student at the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging at the Faculty of Medicine in NTNU, "mortality decreased by 30 per cent among women who exercised once a week compared to those who did not exercise at all. For men the corresponding figure was 20 per cent".
The unique points about this study are that it included women, and also that it included older CHD patients with heart conditions.
Basically, though, "the most important finding was that CHD patients lived longer even though they exercised only once a week," said Moholdt. The study concluded that exercising once a week was linked with lower overall mortality from all causes, for both genders.
In addition, the study, to be published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, found that women who exercised more than half an hour each time could lower their mortality by up to 50%.
And it would seem that a more intensive workout would be more beneficial. "The more intense the exercise is, the better," Moholdt added.
She hopes that more heart patients will begin to participate in physical exercise. While many of them would hesitate to do so, it seems they will have more to lose by being active than to do some exercise.