For people with heart disease, more physical activity may be better

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Moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked to risk reductions of non-communicable diseases and mortality.

In a new study from Radboud University, researchers found that while risk reduction for healthy individuals plateaus at higher levels of physical activity, those with heart disease have no upper limit of physical activity beyond which there is no further benefit.

In the study, the team gathered data from the Lifelines Cohort Study; a population-based cohort of 167,729 individuals living in the Northern Netherlands.

They compared the association between physical activity and major adverse heart events as well as all-cause mortality across healthy people, people with a high risk of heart disease, and people with heart disease.

The researchers found that increasing physical activity reduced mortality risk in all groups.

However, health benefits appeared to level off above a certain volume of physical activity in healthy individuals and those with heart risk factors.

In heart disease patients, the researchers found no evidence of an upper physical activity limit above which there is no further health benefit.

These findings suggest that heart disease patients should be encouraged that ‘more is better’ in regard to physical activity.

The team says physical activity recommendations should not follow a ‘one-guideline-fits-all’ approach but underline the need for precision medicine in which physical activity prescription may be dependent, amongst other factors, on an individual’s cardiovascular health status.

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The study is published in PLOS Medicine. One author of the study is Thijs Eijsvogels.

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