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Housework for your heart

Who knew that vacuuming could be heart-saving?

Physical activity of any kind, including housework, can prevent heart disease and even death, according to an international team of scientists led by St. Paul’s Hospital researcher Dr. Scott Lear.

Dr. Lear holds the Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s and is a professor of health sciences at SFU. He is the principal investigator of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, published in The Lancet, which involved more than 130,000 people from 17 countries.

Dr. Lear’s team demonstrated that any activity is good for people in raising their heart rates to meet the activity guideline of 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week. Researchers found that by meeting these guidelines the risk of death from any cause was reduced by 28 per cent, while heart disease was reduced by 20 per cent, regardless of the type of physical activity. One in 12 deaths could be prevented if everyone was active for at least 150 minutes per week over five years.

In order to realize the full benefits of physical activity, Dr. Lear says it needs to be incorporated into daily life. “Going to the gym is great, but we only have so much time we can spend there. If we can walk to work, or at lunch time, that will help too.”