Exercise and Heart Health

The Key Points: 

Suggestions on how to get started:

Please talk to your GP before starting a new exercise regime.

  • The first step to getting more active can be done by increasing the actual number of steps you do in your day. Take a 10 to 15-minute walk first thing in the morning before you start your day.
  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week, you can split this up into 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week.
  • Aerobic exercises to include are brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and gardening.
  • If you are sitting at a desk all day or don’t spend much time moving, set an alert on your phone to get up and move every 30-60 minutes. Just a 2-minute walk around and stretch will benefit you and help protect your heart’s health.
  • Alongside aerobic physical activity, you should aim for 2 sessions per week of resistance type exercises where you target large muscle groups. These exercises can be performed at home or in a gym using body weight or additional weights. The types of exercise to include can be squats, lunges, press ups and plank exercises.

Exercise and Heart Health: The Article

  • Performing very little physical activity and leading a sedentary lifestyle where you sit more than you move is one of the top 5 major risk factors for increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease1.
  • Regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking or cycling promotes weight loss, reduces blood pressure and bad cholesterol which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease1.
  • Just moving for 15 minutes a day compared to never has been previously associated with a 14% reduction in risk of all-cause mortality2.
  • Researchers have reported that the more activity that was completed per day was associated with a greater reduction in heart disease risk, with 40 minutes of physical activity a day reducing all-cause mortality by 20%2,3. In addition the intensity of exercise you perform also plays a big part, with vigorous intensity exercise yielding greater health benefits2.
  • Resistance training exercises which help to maintain or build muscle mass reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering the cardiometabolic biomarkers such as blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Muscle tissue also secretes bioactive substances which have cardioprotective benefits4. Aim to perform 2 resistance training sessions per week to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.


    1. Myers, J. (2003). “Exercise and Cardiovascular Health.” Circulation. 107(1): e2-e5.
    2. Wen, C.P., Wai, J.P., Tsai, M.K., Yang, Y.C., Cheng, T.Y., Lee, M.C., Chan, H.T., Tsao, C.K., Ts ai, S.P., Wu, X. (2011). “Minimum amount of physical activity reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study.” Lancet. 378: 1244-1253.
    3. Lear, S, A., Hu, W., Rangarajan, S., Gasevic, D., Leong, D., Iqbal, R., Casanova, A., et al. (2017). “The effect of physical activity on mortality and cardiovascular disease in 130,000 people from 17 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: the PURE study.” Lancet. 390(10113):2643-2654.
    4. Fiuza-Luces, C., Santos-Lozano, A., Joyner, M., Carrera-Bastos, P., Picazo, O., Zugaza, J.L., Izquierode, M., Ruilope, L.M., and Lucia, A. (2018). “Exercise benefits in cardiovascular disease: beyond attenuation of traditional risk factors.” 15: 731-743.