Physical Activity and Your Heart Risks
In general, the benefits of regular physical activity far outweigh risks to the heart and lungs.
Talk with your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness during physical activity. Rarely do heart problems occur because of physical activity. Examples include arrhythmias, sudden cardiac arrest, and heart attack.
The risk of heart problems due to physical activity is related to your fitness level and the intensity of the activity you're doing. For example, someone who isn't physically fit is at higher risk for a heart attack during vigorous activity than a person who is physically fit.
These events generally happen to people who already have heart conditions.
- Youth and young adults who have congenital heart problems are more at risk. The term “congenital” means the heart problem has been present since birth. Congenital heart problems include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, and myocarditis.
- Middle-aged and older adults who have coronary heart disease are more likely to have a heart attack when they're exercising vigorously than when they're not.
If you have a heart problem or chronic (ongoing) disease — such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure — ask your doctor what types of physical activity are safe for you. You can also discuss ways to slowly and safely build physical activity into your daily routine. For more information, go to our Getting Started and Staying Active page.