Physical exercise

An inactive lifestyle is another major risk factor for the development of CVD4. An increase in overall levels
of physical activity and aerobic exercise is also suggested by several guidelines1,3,5 as a very important
non-pharmacological tool for primary CVD prevention.

Physical activity has a positive effect on many of the established risk factors for CVD such as preventing an increase in BP and reducing raised BP, helping to control body weight, improving blood lipids (reducing LDL- cholesterol without consistent effects on HDL-cholesterol and TG) and lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes1,3,5.

Daily physical activity, at moderate
intensity should be emphasized as a
part of a healthy lifestyle!

Primary care is an important setting for the promotion of physical activity. Recommendations should be tailored to patient’s needs and range from simple lifestyle advice through to the roll-out of targeted programs for harder-to-reach individuals. 3.5-7 h moderately vigorous physical activity per week is recommended6. One can achieve these recommendations by splitting the total volume of physical activity/ aerobic exercise training into 30-60 min most days of the week6.

Moderate activity raises the heart rate and breathing frequency. Examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include common activities such as walking briskly, gardening work, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, and hiking.

150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity are equivalent to 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or jogging or a game of singles tennis every week.


  • Encouraging patients to walk to the next station or bus stop rather than taking the usual one, taking the stairs rather than a lift.
  • Simple exercise programmes that can be worked into a daily schedule, such as gardening, house cleaning and walking to the shops.
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with some hills.
  • Encouraging spending less time watching TV and opting for outdoor recreational activities
  • Muscle strengthening excercises such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands.
Test your knowledge
Regular physical activity has a positive effect on which of the following established CVD risk factors? (More than one answer may be correct)
  1. Physical activity prevents an increase in blood pressure and reduces raised blood pressure
  2. Physical activity helps to control body weight
  3. Physical activity improves blood lipids
  4. Physical activity lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Check your answer
Test your knowledge
What are the recommendations for keeping physically active? (More than one answer may be correct)
  1. Aiming for 3.5 to 7 h of moderately vigorous physical activity per week
  2. Splitting the total volume of physical activity into 30-60 min on most days of the week
  3. Aiming for 60 min of vigorous aerobic activity every day
  4. Aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week
Check your answer

Physical activity should be encouraged, aiming at regular physical exercise for at least 30-60 minutes a day every day.