Self-reported physical activity and atrial fibrillation risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Published:December 18, 2020DOI:


      Although physical activity (PA) is an important component of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment, its role in atrial fibrillation (AF) risk is less well established.


      The purpose of this study was to systematically summarize the evidence pertaining to the relationship of PA and risk of AF.


      We searched the PubMed and Embase databases for prospective cohort studies reporting the risk of AF associated with a specific PA volume through March 2020. From each study, we extracted the risk associated with a given PA level, in comparison with insufficiently active (“inactive”) individuals. The reported risk was normalized to metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-minutes per week. A random-effects meta-analysis was used to compare AF risk between those who met and those who did not meet PA recommendations (450 MET-minutes per week), and a dose-response analysis between the level of PA and the risk of AF was performed.


      Fifteen studies reporting data from 1,464,539 individuals (median age 55.3 years; 51.7% female) were included. Individuals achieving guideline-recommended level of PA had a significantly lower risk of AF (hazard ratio 0.94; 95% confidence interval 0.90–0.97; P = .001). Dose-response analysis showed that PA levels up to 1900 MET-minutes per week were associated with a lower risk of AF, with less certainty beyond that level.


      PA at guideline-recommended levels and above are associated with a significantly lower AF risk. However, at 2000 MET-minutes per week and beyond, the benefit is less clear.

      Graphical abstract


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