According to Professor Russell Moore of CU-Boulder's integrative physiology department who led the study, lab rats carrying the genetic characteristics for spontaneously developing heart failure were shown to live significantly longer if they exercised moderately on a treadmill. The exercise protocol, the equivalent of daily, leisurely strolls in humans, extended the life expectancy of the rat study group by at least 10 percent to 15 percent, according to the study.
"Assuming the results are applicable to humans, low-intensity exercise is likely to have benefits to humans in early stages of congestive heart failure," he said.
The study was published in the November 2005 issue of the American Journal of Physiology -- Heart and Circulatory Physiology. The study was co-authored by CU-Boulder doctoral student Craig Emter, Associate Professor Sylvia McCune, Research Associate Genevieve Sparagna and Ohio State University Professor Judith Radin.
"Our study, coupled with several human studies conducted elsewhere, shows a definite trend indicating that moderate intensity exercise has a potential role in stemming the downward spiral in heart failure," he said.
Moore said a unique feature of the CU-Boulder study was that the delay in the onset of CHF in the rats through moderate exercise was accomplished without reducing hypertension, or high blood pressure, in the animals. Most people in the early stages of development of heart failure also have hypertension, which is regularly treated to help improve the prognosis of CHF sufferers, said Moore.
Although several human studies in the last 10 to 20 years have shown that moderate exercise does not appear to harm CHF sufferers, the positive benefits