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In a study published in Circulation earlier this month, Lee and colleagues found that people who engaged in 15 minutes a day of moderate physical activity had a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with inactive people.
That research, combining the results of nearly three dozen studies of people from North America and Europe, also found that the benefit increased with more activity and may provide more motivation to the physically fit.
People should strive to do the recommended level of exercise, but should not be discouraged if they can't achieve it right away. Start slow and gradually build up.
"As inactive persons start moving, they may very well find that they become more fit" and reaching their exercise goal becomes easier, Lee said.
Until a year ago, Bernadette O'Brien, a retired principal who lives in northern New Jersey, did not make time for exercise. She would occasionally walk around her neighborhood and swim in the pool at her local gym, but she did little else.
After the 80-year-old was diagnosed with diabetes, she decided to change her habits. Now O'Brien exercises between 15 and 45 minutes a day, five days a week. She mixes up her routine with water aerobics and strength training so she won't get bored.
"I feel healthy and energetic. And my balance is pretty good," she said.
Lancet journal: http://www.thelancet.com/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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