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Physical activity in the prevention of coronary heart disease: implications for the clinician
  1. Tina Varghese1,
  2. William M Schultz1,
  3. Andrew A McCue1,
  4. Cameron T Lambert1,
  5. Pratik B Sandesara1,
  6. Danny J Eapen2,
  7. Neil F Gordon3,
  8. Barry A Franklin4,
  9. Laurence S Sperling2
  1. 1J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  3. 3INTERVENT International, Savannah, Georgia, USA
  4. 4Department of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laurence S Sperling, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Emory University, 1365 Clifton Road NE, Building A, Suite 2200, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; lsperli{at}


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide. Because regular physical activity (PA) independently decreases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) while also having a positive, dose-related impact on other cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, it has increasingly become a focus of CHD prevention. Current guidelines recommend 30 min of moderate-intensity PA 5 days a week, but exercise regimens remain underused. PA adherence can be fostered with a multilevel approach that involves active individual participation, physician counselling and health coaching, community involvement, and policy change, with incorporation of cardiac rehabilitation for patients requiring secondary prevention. Viewing exercise quantity as a vital sign, prescribing PA like a medication, and using technology, such as smartphone applications, encourage a global shift in focus from CVD treatment to prevention. Community-wide, home-based and internet-based prevention initiatives may also offer a developing pool of resources that can be tapped into to promote education and PA compliance. This review summarises the underlying rationale, current guidelines for and recommendations to cultivate a comprehensive focus in the endorsement of PA in the primary and secondary prevention of CHD.

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