• Congenital heart disease;
  • Activity monitor;
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise test;
  • Maximal oxygen uptake


Aim:  To investigate physical activity, sports participation and aerobic fitness in children who have undergone surgery for congenital heart defects.

Subjects and methods:  Children who had undergone surgery for congenital heart defects and healthy controls in the Gothenburg area were invited to participate in the study. All participants were aged 9–11 or 14–16 years. The activity monitor ActiReg was used to assess physical activity. Participants were interviewed about their participation in sports and performed a maximal exercise test on a bicycle with measured oxygen uptake.

Results:  A total of 32 and 25 patients, and 61 and 45 controls, in the two age-groups were included, respectively. The patients had a wide range of severity of congenital heart defects. The physical activity level was similar in the patients and the controls. The rate of sports participation was high for both patients and controls; 80–94% of all participants took part in sports at least once a week. The majority of the patients were considered to have at least a moderate level of aerobic fitness.

Conclusions:  Although children who have undergone surgery for congenital heart defects have a similar level of physical activity compared with that of healthy children, some of them may require support to participate in exercise and vigorous physical activity.