Exercise greatly reduces the risk of death from a cardiovascular disease, says the American College of Cardiology (ACC)’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council. Short periods of physical activity including standing are also associated with a lower risk. The findings were published on Jan. 18, 2016, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).
“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.”
Federal guidelines say that people should do a vigorous workout 75 minutes per week or moderate intensity exercise for 150 minutes per week, but only half of American adults meet this criteria. Researchers found, however, that moderate or vigorous intensity exercise at rates lower than the 2008 Physical Activity Guideline recommendations did reduce cardiovascular disease mortality, but reductions in mortality rates for cardiovascular disease for those who did vigorous intensity exercise did level out. Both types of exercise resulted in reduced cardiovascular disease mortality when compared to physical inactivity.
Some limited studies have raised concerns that high amounts of aerobic workouts could be as bad for cardiovascular outcomes as no exercise. Researchers say that this concept should be investigated, but that for extremely active endurance athletes, the benefits of exercise outweigh any 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.
A previous study showed that only 62 percent of heart attack patients are referred to cardiac rehabilitation after being discharged from a hospital. In this group, only 23 percent attended more than one rehab appointment, and only 5.4 percent completed more than 36 sessions.
“The available 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.”