Physical Activity Over the Lifecourse and Cardiovascular Disease

Circ Res. 2023 Jun 9;132(12):1725-1740. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.123.322121. Epub 2023 Jun 8.


Despite improvements in cardiovascular care in recent decades, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of death worldwide. At its core, CVD is a largely preventable disease with diligent risk factor management and early detection. As highlighted in the American Heart Association's Life's Essential 8, physical activity plays a central role in CVD prevention at an individual and population level. Despite pervasive knowledge of the numerous cardiovascular and noncardiovascular health benefits of physical activity, physical activity has steadily decreased over time and unfavorable changes in physical activity occur throughout people's lives. Here, we use a lifecourse framework to examine the evidence reporting on the association of physical activity with CVD. From in utero to older adults, we review and discuss the evidence detailing how physical activity may prevent incident CVD and mitigate CVD-related morbidity and death across all life stages.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; coronary heart disease; exercise; myocardial infarction; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Exercise
  • Heart
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology