Research update: Link between exercise, vitamin D, and lower risk of heart attack and stroke

We’ve known for a while now that exercise and adequate vitamin D individually can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. A new study by researchers from Johns Hopkins now suggests that the combined effects of exercise and adequate vitamin D are even greater than either working alone. Even better, they found that exercise and vitamin D levels are positively and directly related meaning more exercise = more vitamin D.

The study collected survey responses and health records from more than 10,000 Americans over 20 years. It was first published in the April 1, 2017, issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. You can read it (if you’re a subscriber) or purchase the full article here.

Notably, a 2011 Harvard study found that 3 or more hours of vigorous exercise was linked to higher vitamin D levels in participants (who were all male), both of which were associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The Harvard researchers concluded that the increased vitamin D levels were likely due to more sun exposure in those who exercised more. The more recent Johns Hopkins study, however, indicates that more sun exposure is likely not the whole story and that exercise may actually increase vitamin D stores or that people who exercise more may have healthier habits generally that promote vitamin D levels.

You can find the 2011 Harvard study here.

 

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