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When it comes to exercises’ cardio benefits, ‘one shoe doesn’t fit all’

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Published: July 3, 2015 6:10:44 PM

Recent review has indicated the places, where cardio benefits of exercise may lie. To gain a more precise understanding of how exercise improves health and whom it helps most, researchers analyzed the results of 160 randomized clinical trials with nearly 7,500 participants.

Recent review has indicated the places, where cardio benefits of exercise may lie. To gain a more precise understanding of how exercise improves health and whom it helps most, researchers analyzed the results of 160 randomized clinical trials with nearly 7,500 participants.

The meta-analysis is one of the first studies to systematically and comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of exercise interventions in affecting various health outcomes, said lead author Xiaochen Lin from the Brown University School of Public Health.

Lin added that because the exact mechanisms linking exercise to intermediate health outcomes are not clear, they also wanted to examine the effects of exercise on intermediate biomarkers that may potentially mediate the cardioprotective effects of exercise.

By looking at the reported benefits of exercise across all the studies, the authors found nuances that could be important to doctors and their patients as they consider whether to embark on exercise interventions.

Based on their findings, exercise interventions are not universally effective across different intermediate outcomes and subgroups of participants, said corresponding author Simin Liu, adding that even though exercise may benefit most people under most circumstances, it does not mean that the same exercise program or therapy should be prescribed to everyone.

For example, the researchers found that for some of the measures the studies tracked, men often benefitted more than women, people under 50 benefitted more than people over that age, and people with either type 2 diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidemia benefitted more than people with none of those conditions.

The researchers noted that some of the significant benefits of exercise appear to lie in reducing insulin resistance and inflammation based on how those biomarkers performed in the studies.

Liu said that while the review confirms wide-ranging benefits of exercise, it’s still just one of the levers doctors and patients should consider manipulating.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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