exercise critical for heart health, longevity
encourage physical activity for heart disease prevention
The majority of citizens
in developed countries should not be concerned by potential harm from exercise
but rather by the lack of exercise in their lives, according to a clinical
perspective published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
from the ACC Sports and Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council. According to
the council, small amounts of physical activity, including standing, are
associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but more exercise leads
to even greater reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
“The evidence with
regard to exercise continues to unfold and educate the cardiovascular clinical
community,” said JACC Editor-in-Chief Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D.
“The greatest benefit is to simply exercise, regardless of the intensity,
while the danger is two-fold: to not exercise at all or to exercise intensely,
without due preparation.”
Studies have shown that
regular physical activity reduces a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular
disease; however, only half of U.S. adults meet the federally recommended
guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes
per week of vigorous intensity exercise.
In this report, the
American College of Cardiology Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council examined
recent research on the volume and intensity of aerobic exercise required for
favorable cardiovascular health. With the rise in participation in endurance
races over the past three decades, they also address the question of whether or
not there is an amount of exercise that increases cardiovascular disease risk.
The council found that
moderate and vigorous intensity exercise in amounts lower than the 2008
Physical Activity Guideline recommendations still significantly lower mortality
risk in different populations around the globe. Increasing the amount of
moderate intensity exercise a person engages in results in increased reductions
in cardiovascular disease mortality; however, the reductions in cardiovascular
mortality benefits from vigorous intensity exercise do level out at a certain
There is no evidence for
an upper limit to exercise-induced health benefits and all amounts of both
moderate and vigorous intensity exercise result in a reduction of both
all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality compared to physical inactivity.
While controversial, a
few limited studies have raised the concern that high volumes of aerobic
exercise may be as bad for cardiovascular outcomes as no exercise at all.
According to the council, the possibility that too much exercise training could
be harmful is worthy of investigation, but research results show that even for
the very active, life-long endurance athletes, the benefits of exercise
training outweigh the risks.
“The public media
has embraced the idea that exercise may harm the heart and disseminated this
message, thereby diverting attention away from the benefits of exercise as a
potent intervention for the primary and secondary prevention of heart
disease,” said Michael Scott Emery, M.D., co-chair of the ACC Sports and
Exercise Cardiology Council.
disease patients, exercise can save lives, but one study showed that only 62
percent of heart attack patients were referred to cardiac rehabilitation at
hospital discharge. Of those, just 23 percent attended more than one rehab
session and only 5.4 percent completed more than 36 sessions.
evidence should prompt clinicians to recommend strongly low and moderate
exercise training for the majority of our patients,” Emery said.
“Equally important are initiatives to promote population health at large
through physical activity across the life span, as it modulates behavior from
childhood into adult life.”
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