Despite what expert marketers in the fitness industry might say, there is no real secret to getting and staying fit. In fact, the reality is that the keys to doing so are simpler than most people often realize. Yes, resolve is essential and discipline is helpful. Still, health and wellness are often ameliorated through day-to-day tweaks, the sum of which cumulate into an overarching active lifestyle.

Things like taking the stairs at work, enjoying a nice stroll after meals, or a casual bike ride with a loved one can go a long way. For those who want to add a light jog to that list, there is more great news. A new study published in the European Heart Journal suggests efforts like these can help reduce the risk of a heart attack, according to a recent article from US News and World Report. Story author and HealthDay Reporter Robert Preidt explained the findings, writing:

Between 2006 and 2008, researchers assessed the cardiorespiratory (heart/lung) fitness of just over 4,500 men and women in Norway. None had heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer, and most were considered at low risk for heart disease over the next 10 years.

By 2017, however, 147 of the study participants had suffered a heart attack or developed angina, conditions caused by narrowing or blockage of heart arteries.

More investigation showed that the risk of heart attack and angina steadily declined as cardiorespiratory fitness increased.

“We found a strong link between higher fitness levels and a lower risk of heart attack and angina pectoris over the nine years following the measurements that were taken,” said Bjarne Nes of the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

“Even among people who seem to be healthy, the top 25 percent of the most fit individuals actually have only half as high a risk as the least fit 25 percent,” he said in a university news release.  

The study used a fitness calculator developed at CERG, which measures the body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It found that for each increase of 3.5 fitness points, the risk of heart attack and angina decreased by 15 percent.

As studies like these reveal, people can improve their short-term and long-term health with minimal lifestyle adjustments. For many, once these decisions become habitual, more ambitious exercise disciplines become easier.

To read Preidt’s full writeup click here.