MONTREAL, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Even low levels of fitness activity can be enough to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers from the University of Montreal suggest.
In a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, scientists found exercise levels up to 20 percent below the average for healthy people are a sufficient effort to prevent heart disease. The paper is due to be published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention.
"This is great news for people with heart disease who have difficulty adhering to a regular -- mainly aerobic -- exercise program," lead researcher Daniel Curnier said in a press release. "Small improvements in their fitness level are enough. You don't have to be an great athlete to benefit from these effects."
The study involved 205 male participants in addition to 44 females with heart disease. The subjects were instructed to use a stationary bike stress test to determine their fitness level.
"We know from many studies that good physical fitness reduces cardiovascular mortality, and that physical activity has a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors following a rehab program," Maxime Caru said. "However, the impact of physical fitness level on risk factors has remained an open question. That is why our research team asked the following question: 'Is good physical condition required to produce a preventive effect on these cardiovascular risk factors?'"
The research team says the easiest way to improve cardiovascular health is to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, and exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.