Journal scan

Just one workout protects heart from cardiovascular disease

A single physical workout can give the heart immediate protection lasting for several days against cardiovascular disease, researchers say

Picture: iStock

A single physical workout can give the heart immediate protection against cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

A review led by Liverpool John Moores University suggests just one session of exercise may provide early protection of the heart for two to three hours.

This ‘cardiovascular preconditioning’ is followed by a more robust and longer period of protection that emerges after 24 hours and remains for several days, the team found.

Preparing for damage

It is widely accepted that exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors such as body mass and cholesterol levels, but usually this effect takes several weeks or even months to achieve.

This theory is based on the concept that the heart is protected against a blockade of blood flow, such as a heart attack, when it is repeatedly exposed to short periods of blood flow blockade.

This ‘prepares’ the heart against damage. Various types of exercise seem to induce a comparable effect, leading to protection of the heart, the study found.

Thijssen D et al (2017) Association of Exercise Preconditioning With Immediate Cardioprotection. JAMA Cardiology. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2017.4495

This article is for subscribers only