Physical activity helps protect against heart attacks

January 18, 2012

Uppsala, Sweden – Mild to moderate physical activity during work and any level of physical activity during leisure time may reduce the risk of heart attack, although heavy physical labor during work may not provide the same benefit, according to a study published in the European Health Journal.

The worldwide study compared the work and leisure exercise habits of 10,043 first-time heart attack victims to a control group of 14,217 people with no reported chest pains or physical disabilities. Researchers found that people whose work involved either light or moderate physical activity had a 22 percent or 11 percent lower risk, respectively, of having a heart attack, compared with people whose occupation was mainly sedentary. Heavy physical labor did not reduce the risk at all.

The study also found that during leisure time, the risk of heart attack was lower among individuals who reported any level of exercise, compared with a primarily sedentary lifestyle.