A Review of Obesity, Physical Activity, and Cardiovascular Disease

Curr Obes Rep. 2020 Dec;9(4):571-581. doi: 10.1007/s13679-020-00403-z.


Purpose of review: The focus of this review is to discuss obesity, physical activity (and physical inactivity/sedentary behavior), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and their often interrelated health implications. The authors summarize the pathophysiological changes associated with obesity, which lead to the development of CVD, recommendations for interventions such as diet, increased physical activity, and weight loss according to current literature and guidelines, and the critical importance of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF).

Recent findings: Clinical trials continue to demonstrate improved outcomes among overweight or obese individuals who achieve a healthy weight using various methods. Increasing CRF levels appears to demonstrate the largest health improvements, regardless of underlying comorbidities or achieving weight loss. CRF, which is perhaps the single most important predictor of overall health, seems more important than weight loss alone regarding improved CVD outcomes in the obese population. These findings are reproduced in studies involving patients with various forms of CVD and CVD risk factors. The importance of CRF is well established; future endeavors to establish specific CRF targets for various patient cohorts are needed.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Cardiorespiratory fitness; Cardiovascular disease; Coronary artery disease; Heart failure; Obesity; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diet, Reducing / methods
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*