That's how a new research paper poses the question, and its positive but still tentative results show: "Briefly we found that low intensity exercise training markedly delayed the onset of overt CHF without a reduction in antecedent hypertension. Additionally, we found that some, but not all, of the classic cellular and systemic physiological alterations normally associated with the development of overt CHF were attenuated with exercise training."
It's not an idle issue. The American Heart Association (AHA) 2005 Statistics Update reports that 65 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension) and nearly 5 million are suffering from CHF, where the chances of survival drop rapidly, as about 75% of patients die within 8 years after diagnosis.
"The key findings in this study," according to laboratory director Russell L. Moore, "are that (1) exercise can delay the onset of decompensated heart failure and improve survivability and (2) this effect is strongly dependent on the level of intensity of the exercise. You can push the level over the edge quickly," he added. "Not that long ago, clinicians were afraid to even suggest a little exercise in patients with CHF. However, our study, along with several human studies, shows a definite trend indicating that moderate intensity exercise has a potential role in stemming the downward spiral in heart failure," Moore said.
The paper, "Low-intensity exercise training delays the onset of decompensated heart failure in the spontaneously hypertensive heart failure (SHHF) rat," appears in the November edition of the American Journal of Ph