Exercise after heart attack could boost longevity

Maintaining physical activity after a heart attack can help people live longer, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers looked at 1,651 men who’d had a heart attack. The scientists found that, over a 14-year-period, those who kept up high levels of physical activity—2.5 hours or more of vigorous exercise per week—had a 39% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with those with the lowest levels of physical activity (less than one hour per week). They also found that men who increased their physical activity from before to after a heart attack, to at least 2.5 hours a week, had a 27% lower risk.

Lead author Laila Al-Shaar, postdoctoral research fellow in cardiovascular epidemiology, said in an August 5, 2020 Runner’s World article that high-intensity workouts aren’t necessary to reap survival benefits after a heart attack—even 2.5 hours of walking each week could help.

“Walking can improve cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight control, and insulin sensitivity, which are all associated with long-term survival,” she said.

Other Harvard Chan authors of the study included Yanping Li, Eric Rimm, JoAnn Manson, Bernard Rosner, Frank Hu, Meir Stampfer, and Walter Willett.

Read the Runner’s World article: New Research Delves into the Benefits of Exercise After a Heart Attack