11 Dec 2016

When it comes to your heart, is all exercise equal?

From Sunday Morning, 7:50 am on 11 December 2016

We know physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, but new research shows different types of exercise have different effects on cardiovascular health.

The international study observed 80,000 adults between 1994 and 2006 and looked at associations between six common sports and premature death.

The senior author of the study – Emmanuel Stamatakis – spoke to Wallace Chapman.

Stamatakis says that while we now have a pretty clear understanding of how exercise affects cardiovascular health, we still don’t understand very well the role played by particular types of exercise.

Until now, the study of physical activity has mostly been concerned with volume (dose) and intensity.

The key findings of the study were an association between cycling, swimming, racquet sports and aerobics and reduced risk of premature death by any cause.

Of these sports, cycling was not associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The research didn’t set out to give a ranking of sports and the results of the study can’t be interpreted as cause and effect, says Stamatakis. They merely show associations.

He maintains the best physical activity is whichever one you enjoy doing and will stick to.

“Let that be tennis, let that be squash, let that be running, let that be daily walking or gardening or abseiling.”

Emmanuel Stamatakis is an associate professor at the Charles Perkins Centre University of Sydney.