Moderate intensity exercise the best way forward to a healthy heartbeat

15 May 2014        

Doctor examining a patient

Young men taking on too much endurance exercise could be at a greater risk of developing an irregular heartbeat in later life according to scientists.

The Swedish study found men who exercised intensively for more than five hours a week were 19 per cent more likely to develop an irregular heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation by the time they’re 60 putting them at increased risk of stroke.

This rose to 49 per cent in those that quit exercising later in life. However the research also showed walking or cycling at an older age reduced the chance of developing an irregular heartbeat by 13 per cent. 

Being physically inactive at any age can harm your health, so the general advice remains to take regular exercise - 30 minutes a day, five days a week


Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “These findings should be interpreted with caution as an association does not demonstrate causality. The intensity of exercise was self-reported and the study did not involve a control group for comparison.

“Being physically inactive at any age can harm your health, so the general advice remains to take regular exercise - 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

“Those planning to undertake moderate to high intensity physical activity should be aware of the potential risks as well as the benefits.”