(NewsUSA) - Just 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week can benefit the cardiovascular system, according to a study published in "Circulation," the journal of the American Heart Association.
"Exercise is essential for good vascular health," said Niten Singh, MD, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. "The report reinforces the importance of exercise and its effect on good blood flow."
Completed at University College in London, researchers studied more than 4,200 participants (average age 49) for 10 years. Persons who maintained an exercise regimen -- brisk walking, vigorous gardening, cycling, sports, housework and home maintenance -- had lower markers that indicate the risk of coronary disease.
"For America's Baby Boomers, this is a wake-up call," said Dr. Singh. "Remain active into your retirement years. We're talking about 30 minutes of exercise a day."
Exercises of moderate intensity increase the heart rate and break a sweat.
* Water aerobics
* Ballroom dancing
* Playing with children
* Mowing the lawn
Vigorous exercises increase the heart rate, break a sweat and limit talking due to catching one's breath.
* Race walking, jogging, running
* Swimming laps
* Playing basketball, football and soccer.
* Heavy gardening -- continuous digging and hoeing
Twice weekly muscle-strengthening activities can include:
* Sit-ups, push-ups
* Weight lifting
* Digging and shoveling in the garden
The lack of regular physical activity results in 250,000 deaths each year according to a 2003 "Circulation" report. Persons who are least physically fit have a mortality risk 4.5 times higher than physically fit persons.
Exercise may reduce the risk of stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in America, according to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "2010 National Vital Statistics Report." In 2010, 137,000 Americans died of stroke.
Non-invasive tests can screen for vascular disease. Medications can help control vascular disease. Information appears on the Society for Vascular Surgery website, www.vascularweb.org.