HealthDay News — Physical activity (PA) is not only associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the greatest benefit is seen for those who are active at the highest level, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in PLOS Medicine.

Rema Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues evaluated the association between accelerometer-measured moderate, vigorous, and total PA and incident CVD using accelerometer data from 90,211 participants in the U.K. Biobank cohort without prior CVD.

The researchers found that PA was associated with 3,617 incident CVD cases during a median of 5.2 years. There was a linear dose-response relationship between the risk for incident CVD and PA, whether measured as moderate-intensity, vigorous-intensity, or total volume. Compared with the lowest fourth of PA, increasing quarters of PA distribution were associated with a decreasing hazard of CVD (for moderate-intensity PA: hazard ratios, 0.71, 0.59, and 0.46, respectively; for vigorous-intensity PA: hazard ratios, 0.70, 0.54, and 0.41, respectively; for total volume of PA: hazard ratios, 0.73, 0.63, and 0.47, respectively). Despite adjusting for potential confounders, the authors could not completely dismiss the likelihood that reverse causality contributed to the findings.

“This is the largest ever study of exquisite device-measured physical activity and cardiovascular disease. It shows that physical activity is probably even more important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease than we previously thought,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Our findings lend further weight to the new World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity which recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults.”

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