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Slowly amping up exercise intensity is best for consumers' heart health

Researchers recommend building up to more vigorous activity

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According to researchers from the American Heart Association, there are very few risks associated with exercise. However, it’s important for consumers who aren’t super active to take things slowly when first getting into a fitness routine. 

In a new study, the researchers are emphasizing caution for consumers who don’t regularly exercise. While it’s important to take part in physical activity, moderately increasing the intensity of exercise can help prevent heart concerns. 

“Exercise is medicine, and there is no question that moderate to vigorous physical activity is beneficial to overall cardiovascular health,” said researcher Barry A. Franklin, PhD. “However, like medicine, it is possible to underdose and overdose on exercise -- more is not always better and can lead to cardiac events, particularly when performed by inactive, unfit, individuals with known or undiagnosed heart disease.”

The importance of moderation

The researchers reviewed over 300 previous studies to help determine how consumers of varying activity levels can best use exercise to their advantage. 

One study in particular focused on heart health issues for triathlon participants. The researchers found that the risk of a heart attack or cardiac episode was highest for those who had never before competed in such a physical event. 

“More people are running marathons, participating in triathlons, and doing high-intensity interval training,” said Dr. Franklin. “The purpose of this statement is to put the benefits and risks of these vigorous exercise programs in perspective.” 

The study revealed that those who regularly engage in high levels of physical activity have a lower risk of experiencing a serious heart condition. However, it’s important that consumers take the time to slowly build up their activity levels, as trying to do too much too soon -- like competing in a triathlon -- can pose a risk for heart health. 

Building up endurance

The researchers urge consumers to take things slowly, especially if they’re just starting out with an exercise regimen. 

Warming up before a workout and cooling down after are great ways to keep your heart rate steady, and it’s important that consumers monitor how they’re feeling before, during, and after exercise. 

Ultimately, the researchers are encouraging consumers to incorporate light exercise into their daily lives. However, slowly building stamina is crucial to ensuring that heart health stays under control. 

“It is important to start exercising -- but go slow, even if you were an athlete in high school,” said Dr. Franklin. 

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