You often hear doctors recommend physical activity instead of professional sports. What is the difference between these concepts?
There is no generally accepted medical definition of the term “sport” that separates it from other types of physical activity. When doctors talk about the benefits of physical activity as opposed to exercise, they are usually referring to “high performance” and professional sports, not sports in the broad sense of the word, which, by contrast, are good for the cardiovascular system.
A more precise boundary is drawn by the concept of “athlete”: according to the definition of the European Society of Cardiology, it is a young or adult person, amateur or professional, who regularly trains and participates in official sports competitions. Elite athletes (members of national teams, Olympians, professional athletes) engage in more than ten hours of physical activity per week; competitive athletes (e.g., athletes from school, university teams) engage in more than six hours per week; PE athletes engage in four hours per week.
Many scientists link professional sports with health risks: the cardiovascular system is subjected to peak stresses that can be harmful to the body. For example, a study by the American College of Cardiology showed that atrial fibrillation (atrial fibrillation) was 5.5 times more common among former National Football League players in the United States than in the general population, and a pacemaker was implanted ten times more often.
Choose the right kinds of physical activity
There are two main types of physical activity: aerobic and anaerobic. What is the difference and which one is safer for your heart?
Anaerobic activity is short-term, high-intensity physical activity. Experts distinguish three levels of anaerobic activity:
- maximum anaerobic power, which corresponds to a person’s maximum possible power (up to 15-20 seconds);
- near maximum anaerobic power (up to 20-45 seconds);
- submaximal anaerobic power (up to 45-120 sec): short-distance running, jumping rope, lifting weights.
Aerobic activity is a type of physical activity that involves rhythmic contraction of muscles over a long period of time. Aerobic activity is divided into five levels according to their possible duration:
- maximal aerobic power exercises (3-10 minutes);
- exercises close to maximum (10-30 minutes);
- submaximal exercises (30-80 minutes)
- moderate (80-120 minutes);
- low aerobic power (more than two hours).
You should not choose any one type of activity for yourself. To achieve balance and reduce possible heart damage, physical activity should be distributed as follows: 50% (4-7 days per week) aerobic activity, 25% (2-4 days per week) anaerobic activity, and the remaining 25% muscle-strengthening exercises.