Stop worrying about the mainstream’s semi-mythical risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol levels, obesity, or smoking. Because according to a new study, there’s a much stronger risk factor that you should pay closer attention to…
Fortunately, you can improve this risk without taking a statin drug, exercising for hours each day at the gym, or giving up your favorite foods. All it takes is one simple change…
Your ability to move and use oxygen lowers your heart risk
For the new study, Norwegian researchers assessed the cardio-respiratory (heart and lung) fitness of more than 4,500 men and women. They determined this fitness level by measuring the body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise.
At the study’s outset, none of the participants had heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer. And most were considered to have a low risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years.
But it turns out, nearly 150 of the participants ended up suffering a heart attack and/or developing symptoms of heart disease (like angina pectoris) caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries.
However, the participants who could better transport and utilize oxygen during exercise at the study’s outset had a much lower risk of suffering those potentially deadly outcomes.
Specifically, the top 25 percent of most-fit individuals had a 50 percent lower risk of suffering a heart attack or developing heart disease compared to the least fit 25 percent.
They also found that for every small, incremental improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness, the risk of these adverse health outcomes decreased by 15 percent.
Improving your heart and lung function
So, how do you improve your cardio-respiratory fitness?
Well, here’s an easy rule of thumb to follow…
Simply increase the intensity of any physical activity during the day until you begin to feel out of breath and then slow back down. Over time, your cardio-respiratory capacity will increase.
You can do this when you’re walking, taking the stairs, swimming, or even working around the house. Simply push yourself to the point where you begin to breathe a bit heavier, then back down.
That’s all it takes!
Just make sure you don’t push yourself too hard for too long…
Harms of excessive exercise
As I often warn, excessive exercise like marathon-running harms your joints, GI system, heart, and kidneys over the short- and/or long-term. (I refer to this as “excess-ercise.”)
Plus, research shows people who exercise excessively are more likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to those who exercise moderately.
The heart is especially vulnerable to harm from excessive exercise, such as running marathons.
In fact, during my tenures as a hospital pathologist and as a forensic pathologist, I saw case after case of fatal heart attacks in middle-aged, supposedly “fit” people with no evidence of cholesterol problems or related coronary artery disease. Even upon examination, their coronary arteries were wide open.
We concluded that a spasm of the arteries (technically called “coronary artery vaso-spasm”) caused the heart attacks in these younger, fit people. This condition has nothing to do with the mainstream’s favorite risk factors, such as cholesterol, smoking or excess weight.
Instead, it happens in people who overwork their heart, leading to damage of the heart muscle and/or problems with the nervous conduction system of the heart.
So my advice to you is to stop spending hours upon hours at the gym sweating buckets, stop counting steps, and certainly don’t feel guilty about not going out and running a marathon.
Instead, aim to get just 2.5 total hours weekly of moderate exercise, which research links to a much lower mortality risk. I suggest exercising outside, for the added bonus of spending time in Nature, and absorbing all-important vitamin D in the sunshine.
You can learn all about the other natural approaches for preventing and reversing heart disease (without risky prescription heart medications or surgeries) in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. Click here to enroll or learn more today.
“Peak oxygen uptake and incident coronary heart disease in a healthy population: the HUNT Fitness Study.” European Heart Journal, 2019. European Heart Journal (2018) 0, 1–8 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy708