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Mature Adults Who Are More Physically Active May Have Reduced Risk of a Cardiovascular Event

Exercising is recommended for all ages, but until now there hasn’t been much empirical evidence of the benefits for older adults. A recent study has found that regular physical activity may help protect against a cardiovascular event in mature adults.


Participants in the study included 4,207 men and women who took part in the Cardiovascular Health Study. They had a mean age of 73 at the start of the study. The researchers for the study examined data covering physical activity and other health information that came from annual study visits.


After adjusting for lifestyle factors, the researchers found that the participants who were more active had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. They also found that the participants who walked more than three miles per hour had a 50% lower risk of coronary heart disease, 53% lower risk of stroke, and 50% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease than those who walked less than two miles per hour. Participants who walked an average of seven blocks per day, had a 36%, 54%, and 47% lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and total cardiovascular disease, respectively, than those who walked up to five block per week.


The researchers also found that people whose leisure activities were physical — including mowing the lawn, raking, gardening, swimming, biking and hiking — had a lower risk of coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease than those who did not engage in these types of activities. The findings were similar for men and women, for participants who were above or below age 75 at baseline, and for those with similarly good or excellent self-reported health.


Researchers from Tufts University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on November 4, 2015, in the journal Circulation.


Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health, improve respiratory health, and reduce the risk of dying prematurely.


If you’re having trouble staying active, start small. Add a ten-minute walk to your day and increase it a little bit over the course of the week. Or consult a fitness professional who can help you work out a plan specific to your needs.

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