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Inspirational Story of the Week: Exercise Cuts Heart Disease Risk by 23% with Benefits Doubling for Those with Depression...

Updated: Apr 28

An Article By The Good News Network...

Regular exercise can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as a quarter, in part by lowering stress, according to a new study.

The research revealed that exercising helped to reduce stress-related brain activity, which is associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases.

The study of more than 50,000 people found that those who met workout recommendations of 150 minutes a week had a 23 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those not meeting these recommendations.

And those with stress-related conditions such as depression exhibited the most benefits from exercising.

Experts say the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, demonstrates how physical activity can lead to beneficial effects in the brain.

To assess the mechanisms underlying the psychological and cardiovascular disease benefits of physical activity, the researchers analyzed the medical records and other information of 50,359 participants from the Mass General Brigham Biobank who completed a physical activity survey.

A subset of 774 participants underwent brain imaging tests and had measurements of stress-related brain activity taken.

The study, led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that over an average follow-up of ten years, 12.9 percent of participants developed cardiovascular disease.

Those who met physical activity recommendations had a risk of developing cardiovascular disease nearly a quarter lower (23 percent) than those not meeting the same recommendations—and they also tended to have lower stress-related brain activity.

The researchers found that reductions in stress-associated brain activity were notably driven by gains in function in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in executive functions such as decision-making and impulse control.

They found the cardiovascular benefit of exercise was also twice as strong in participants who have depression (and higher stress-related brain activity).

Dr. Ahmed Tawakol, a cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center at the hospital, and senior author of the study, hopes clinicians will use the research to persuade more patients to get moving as a way to reduce stress or depression.

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