New research says three hours a week of vigorous exercise, such as running, basketball or soccer, can lower a man’s risk of heart attack by 22 percent.

Researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed physical activity levels and biomarkers — including cholesterol and insulin sensitivity — in 1,239 male participants of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1994 and 2004.

“We studied vigorous exercise because of its stronger association with coronary heart disease,” said Andrea Chomistek, the lead author of the study that was published in Medicine&Science in Sports&Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Chomistek said men who suffered a nonfatal heart attack or died from coronary heart disease had less “good” cholesterol, more “bad” cholesterol and were more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, factors affected by exercise.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks heart disease as the nation’s leading cause of death among men. Between 70 and 89 percent of all sudden cardiac events occur in men, and nearly half of men who have a heart attack before age 65 die within eight years.

—Anne Aurand, The Bulletin

Source: American College of Sports Medicine