Physical activity not only is safe, but necessary for people with heart conditions, according to the authors of new exercise guidelines released this week by the European Society of Cardiology. 

“With rising levels of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, promoting physical activity is more crucial now than ever before,” said lead author Antonio Pelliccia, M.D., chief of cardiology, Institute of Sports Medicine and Science, Rome.

Clinicians should encourage people with heart disease to exercise moderately each day with a goal of reaching at least 150 minutes per week, the authors said. Those who are obese or have high blood pressure or diabetes may benefit most from strength-building exercise such as lifting weights at least three times a week, plus moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise.

The chance of exercise triggering cardiac arrest or heart attack is extremely low, but clinicians should aim to monitor activity intensity and suggest modifications when needed, the authors said.

“Physical activity is good for everyone with heart disease and even small amounts are beneficial,” concluded author Sanjay Sharma, a professor of sports cardiology and inherited cardiac diseases, St. George’s, University of London.

The 2020 ESC Guidelines on Sports Cardiology and Exercise in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is available here.