It's well established that moderate exercise has major benefits for heart health. When couch potatoes start moving, even by just walking three times a week, studies show that cardiovascular deaths drop by up to 25 percent and lifespans lengthen. Regular exercisers live an average of seven years longer than sedentary people. So the message is not that exercise is pointless. Instead, it's that you can't eat with abandon just because you're fit and slim. It may also be unwise to exercise with abandon, no matter what you eat.
Exercise strengthens the heart, making it a more powerful pump and helping it become more efficient at turning oxygen into fuel. That kind of fitness boosts the chances of surviving heart attacks, illnesses and even car accidents. But working out does nothing to prevent the artery-clogging effects of eating a diet high in saturated fat, new studies suggest. That contradicts a long-held belief that athletics worked like a drug to protect the heart against atherosclerosis -- a build-up of plaque inside the arteries that can constrict blood flow and lead to heart attacks and strokes.