New US research suggests that any amount of exercise could be effective in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease for those who are obese or overweight.
Carried out by researchers at The Ohio State University, the new study looked at data gathered from 22,476 participants aged 30 to 64 years with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the start of the study.
The participants' self-reports on their physical activity levels were used to place them into one of three categories: no exercise at all, exercising for one to 149 minutes per week, or exercising for more than 150 minutes per week.
They were also catergorized according to their body mass index (BMI), with around a third of the participants classified as being "overweight" (with a body mass index of 25 to 29.9) and a little more than a third classified as being "obese" (with a BMI of more than 30). The rest of the participants were classified in the "normal" range.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that the overweight and obese participants were more likely to have a higher risk of developing CVD over the next ten years than those with a BMI in the normal range.
However, the good news is that for those who are obese, doing 150 minutes or more of moderate or vigorous exercise each week lowered the risk of of CVD by 50 percent, and even exercising for just 10 minutes at a time lowered the risk by 34 percent.
For the overweight participants, doing any amount of exercise cut the risk of CVD by 47 percent, and exercising for more than 150 minutes a week reduced the risk by 52 percent.
"This shows that increasing physical activity even a small amount, as little as 10 minutes at a time, is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease -- for example, a 30-minute walk has the same benefits as completing three 10-minute walks," said Xiaochen Zhang, lead author of the study.
The researchers add that 150 minutes of exercise a week is the number widely recommended by experts, with The American Heart Association, The American College of Sports Medicine, and the US Department of Health and Human Services all advising that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.