News & Insights 10 June 2021

The American Heart Association reiterate the importance of physical activity

According to The British Heart Foundation, over a quarter of adults in the UK have high blood pressure. It is thought that over half of these cases remain undiagnosed as visible symptoms are rare; many people are entirely unaware that they are living with one of the primary risk factors associated with both heart attacks and strokes, aptly earning high blood pressure the nickname ‘the silent killer.’

Being the third biggest risk factor for disease, after poor diet and smoking, it may be unsurprising to hear that high blood pressure costs the NHS an average £2.1 billion each year. Similarly, high cholesterol, which affects approximately 40% of the UK adult population, cost the NHS £16.7 million in lipid-regulating medications in May 2019 alone! As such, the significance of preventing and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, particularly in the UK’s ageing population, is clear.

The American Heart Association champions lifestyle-only approaches as the first line of therapy for targeting these harmful conditions, in particular focussing on the extensive benefits that physical activity can elicit in comparison to smoking cessation, reducing alcohol consumption, weight loss or dietary modification. In their latest statement, published on 2nd June 2021 in Hypertension, the American Heart Association concludes that physically active people have a 21% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and an even more notable 36% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Although this statement largely encourages individuals to follow the current physical activity guidelines, comprising a cumulative 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, the authors thankfully also recognise that there is no minimum amount of time required to experience the benefits of physical activity. Instead, Associated Professor Gibbs reiterates “Every little bit of activity is better than none. Even small initial increases of 5 to 10 minutes a day can yield health benefits.”

Whilst the statement is encouraging for those living with these diseases, it also looks to empower clinicians to more readily prescribe physical activity. Gibbs highlights that activity doesn’t have to be a daunting experience and involve “going to the gym or running 5 miles a day,” but instead focussing on getting more general movement into your daily routine can have similarly profound benefits. Even reducing your sedentary time marginally each by taking breaks from your desk, pottering around the house during advert breaks or getting some gardening done for example all quickly add up! Essentially, it’s all about finding the activity that works for you, your health and your routine.

Beyond improving cardiovascular health, physical activity also has a well-established role in relieving respiratory conditions, some cancers, musculoskeletal and mental health and many more, so encouraging this a first line of defence instead of immediately reverting to pharmacotherapies has a plethora of wide-ranging benefits. At KiActiv®, we empower you to take full advantage of the benefits of all movement, helping to identify realistic and sustainable changes to your everyday activity so that the valuable impact of activity becomes unconsciously ingrained into your daily routine.

So, let’s all take the American Heart Association’s advice and get moving to self-manage or prevent these detrimental diseases – taking control of your health can start today!

The KiActiv® Team