Sixty minutes of moderate exercise per day can reduce heart failure risk by nearly 50 percent, a new study shows.

According to researchers at the Uppsala University, Sweden, an hour of moderate physical activity or half an hour of high-intensity exercise can reduce heart failure risk by 45 percent.

"You do not need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of physical activity-even quite low levels of activity can give you positive effects," said Kasper Andersen, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and researcher at the Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. "Physical activity lowers many heart disease risk factors, which in turn lowers the risk of developing heart failure as well as other heart diseases."

For the study, the researchers looked at data from 39,805 people without any known incident of heart failure. The research began in 1997 and the participants were between 20 and 90 years of age.

The participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their lifestyle, eating habits, smoking, exercise and medication use. The researchers then divided the participants on the basis of their physical activity levels: light such as walking, moderate such as jogging/swimming, and heavy such as training for sports.

Heart failure is when the heart can't pump enough blood in the body. The condition usually occurs when the heart muscles weaken with time. Previous research has shown that moderate exercise keeps the heart healthy.

"The Western world promotes a sedentary lifestyle," Andersen said in a news release. "There are often no healthy alternative forms of transportation; in many buildings it is hard to find the stairs; and at home television and computers encourage sedentary behavior."

The study is published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.