Background: Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide. Within this context, the need for a greater focus on their prevention makes, among others, increasing physical activity levels an effective strategy.
Aim: To examine the effect of type (aerobic, resistance, mixed) and intensity of physical activity on cardiovascular risk and to highlight the gaps in the scientific literature regarding physical activity and cardiovascular morbidity.
Material-Methods: A detailed research of high-quality scientific studies aimed at the effect of exercise type and intensity level on cardiovascular disease endpoints such as cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure, was conducted. Data were searched and collected through the PubMed online database.
Results: A total of 51 recent studies were selected for the synthesis of the results. Regarding exercise type, the cardioprotective effect of aerobic exercise was highlighted in both <65 and >65 years old adults, whereas resistance exercise or combination of both types of exercise seemed to lack an adequate focus. Regarding exercise intensity, the data are clearer and support the effect of moderate and high intensity exercise on the 11-52% and 27-58% reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, respectively, compared with low intensity exercise. In addition, several studies reveal a dose-response relationship between exercise intensity and cardiovascular risk reduction.
Conclusions: The current findings highlight the benefit of moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic, with or without resistance, exercise in reducing the risk of major cardiovascular disease endpoints. At the same time, awareness is raised in the scientific community so as the sub specific characteristics of exercise to be further investigated, as well as in the public health systems in order for recommendations on physical activity in the population to be implemented.