The study, undertaken by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests some new reasons why that is the case, with the most notable being that it boosts vitamin D.
The team gathered data on activity levels and biomarkers from adult males from a ten year study undertaken in the USA between 1994 and 2004 and found that three or more hours a week of vigorous exercise such as running, jogging or playing football, can reduce the risk of heart attack by 22%.
They also found that those who exercised vigorously have higher levels of vitamin D as well as higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
“The fact that vitamin D plays a role in the relationship between exercise and risk of heart disease is a new finding,” said lead author Andrea Chomistek, a researcher in HSPH’s nutrition department. “This is probably because people who exercise tend to be out in the sun more, which in turn raises their vitamin D level.”