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Physical activity for people with cardiovascular disease: recommendations of the National Heart Foundation of Australia

Tom G Briffa, Andrew Maiorana, Noella J Sheerin, Anthony G Stubbs, Brian F Oldenburg, Neville L Sammel and Roger M Allan
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (2): 71-75.

Summary

  • To provide physical activity recommendations for people with cardiovascular disease, an Expert Working Group of the National Heart Foundation of Australia in late 2004 reviewed the evidence since the US Surgeon General’s Report: physical activity and health in 1996.

  • The Expert Working Group recommends that:

    • people with established clinically stable cardiovascular disease should aim, over time, to achieve 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week;

    • less intense and even shorter bouts of activity with more rest periods may suffice for those with advanced cardiovascular disease; and

    • regular low-to-moderate level resistance activity, initially under the supervision of an exercise professional, is encouraged.

  • Benefits from regular moderate physical activity for people with cardiovascular disease include augmented physiological functioning, lessening of cardiovascular symptoms, enhanced quality of life, improved coronary risk profile, superior muscle fitness and, for survivors of acute myocardial infarction, lower mortality.

  • The greatest potential for benefit is in those people who were least active before beginning regular physical activity, and this benefit may be achieved even at relatively low levels of physical activity.

  • Medical practitioners should routinely provide brief, appropriate advice on physical activity to people with well-compensated, clinically stable cardiovascular disease.

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  • Tom G Briffa1
  • Andrew Maiorana2
  • Noella J Sheerin3
  • Anthony G Stubbs4
  • Brian F Oldenburg5
  • Neville L Sammel6
  • Roger M Allan7

  • 1 School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA.
  • 3 National Heart Foundation of Australia — NSW Division, Sydney, NSW.
  • 4 Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 5 St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
  • 6 Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW.

Correspondence: 

Acknowledgements: 

Organisations and their representatives who attended the open forum in February 2005 included: Dr Andrew Maiorana (exercise physiologist), representing the Australian Association of Exercise and Sports Science, and the Australian Cardiac Rehabilitation Association; Dr Rowan Vickers (general practitioner), representing the Australian Divisions of General Practice; Val McKenzie (general practice nurse), representing the Australian Practice Nurses Association; Dr Neville Sammel (cardiologist), representing the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, and The Royal Australian College of Physicians; Dr David Lim (general practitioner) and Professor Mark Harris, representing the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (comments provided in absentia); Ms Belinda Cary representing the Australian Physiotherapy Association; Professor Kevin Norton representing Sports Medicine Australia. Honorary representatives of the Heart Foundation National Physical Activity Committee who contributed included Professor Bill Bellew (health promotion), Professor Adrian Bauman (public health; comments provided in absentia) and Professor Wendy Brown (chair; physical activity).

Competing interests:

None identified.

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