How Regular Exercise Affects Longevity

Physical activity, even small amounts, may promote heart health, longevity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) Couch potatoes, arise and exercise — you have everything to gain, especially when it comes to heart health.

A recent report from the American College of Cardiology's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council noted that even small amounts of physical activity can improve heart health and longevity.

"The evidence with regard to exercise continues to unfold and educate the cardiovascular clinical community," said Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, in a press release. "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."

Dr. Fuster, who was not involved with this clinical perspective paper, is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which published this paper.

The article authors, led by Thijs M.H. Eijsvogels, PhD, conducted an extensive review of studies on the link between exercise and heart disease. Dr. Eijsvogels is an exercise physiologist at John Moores Liverpool University in England.

More exercise is better, but it's not necessary to run a marathon, the report authors said.

Regular, small amounts of physical activity are tied to a lower risk of heart disease. More exercise decreases the risk even further, these researchers found.

The current federal exercise guidelines call for 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. If you choose vigorous exercise, you need 75 minutes a week. That's the equivalent of a brisk, 30-minute walk five days a week or an hour-and-a-half of jogging.

As long as you don't try to jump off the couch and go for a 5-mile run, and your health is in good condition, there are no downsides to exercising, Dr. Eijsvogels and colleagues said.

Gradually increasing your exercise tolerance will improve your heart health. Even when patients already have heart disease, exercise can improve their heart health.

Co-author Michael S. Emery, MD, co-chair of the Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council, said in a press release, "The available evidence should prompt clinicians to recommend strongly low and moderate exercise training for the majority of our patients. 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."

This report was published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The authors disclosed no outside funding sources. Co-author Paul D. Thompson, MD, received research support, consulting fees or speaker fees from companies that make or distribute heart drugs, such as Aventis, Roche, Sanofi, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

Review Date: 
January 18, 2016
Last Updated:
January 20, 2016