Exercise and Heart Disease

From Athletes and Arrhythmias to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Congenital Heart Disease

Abbas Zaidi; Sanjay Sharma


Future Cardiol. 2013;9(1):119-136. 

In This Article

Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise

It is well established that regular exercise results in significant cardiovascular health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure,[1] lipid profile,[2] body mass and composition,[3] as well as objective measures of functional capacity.[3] Moreover, it has been extensively demonstrated that individuals engaging in regular, moderate exercise are at lower risk for mortality, enjoying an average life expectancy 7 years greater than their sedentary counterparts.[4] Such health benefits are evident at relatively modest 'doses' of exercise, amounting to around 6–10 metabolic equivalents per week. Indeed, exercise prescription is among the most cost-effective therapies available for cardiovascular disease prevention, and is devoid of the side effects common to most pharmacological interventions. Incremental benefits in coronary heart disease risk reduction are manifest with increasing activity, such that those achieving around 42 metabolic equivalents per week appear to gain the greatest benefit.[5] By way of example, this would equate to brisk jogging for around 5 h per week. That the beneficial effects of exercise continue to increment above and beyond this point has never been demonstrated.