genetic fitness workplace wellness

Exercise Benefits Individuals with Genetic Heart Disease Risk: Study

Can you outrun genetic makeup?

When it comes to heart disease, that might be a difficult task. But new evidence exists that a focus on fitness — a pillar of a well-run workplace wellness program — may be a good place to start.

We previously noted a MedPage report that made clear that age should not get in the way of fitness. The post notes that “individuals in good health despite a sedentary lifestyle still benefit from initiating an exercise routine in middle age, according to a randomized study.”

For workplace wellness leaders who seek evidence to present to reluctant participants, the study makes clear that age should not be an excuse.

Now a new MedPage post notes that “Exercise May Outrun Strong Family Risk for Heart Disease;
Cardio fitness associated with lower heart disease, AF risk.”

The post is based on a study published in Circulation that’s titled “Associations of Fitness, Physical Activity, Strength, and Genetic Risk With Cardiovascular Disease: Longitudinal Analyses in the UK Biobank Study.”

The authors write: “Observational studies have shown inverse associations among fitness, physical activity, and cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about these associations in individuals with elevated genetic susceptibility for these diseases.”

To learn more, the researchers “estimated associations of grip strength, objective and subjective physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness with cardiovascular events and all-cause death in a large cohort of 502635 individuals from the UK Biobank. Then we further examined these associations in individuals with different genetic burden by stratifying individuals based on their genetic risk scores for coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation. We compared disease risk among individuals in different tertiles of fitness, physical activity, and genetic risk using lowest tertiles as reference.”

Their conclusion: “Fitness and physical activity demonstrated inverse associations with incident cardiovascular disease in the general population, as well as in individuals with elevated genetic risk for these diseases.”

Or, as MedPage Today writes: “People with an elevated genetic risk for developing heart disease appear to derive the same cardiovascular benefit from exercise as the general population.”

MedPage adds that principal researcher Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in California said: “It’s clear that exercise is good for us and it is good for heart health. Both aerobic exercise and strength training are beneficial, and they are likely to have good effects regardless of genetic risk.”