New heart research: ‘Never too late to exercise’
15 August 2012
A new study has shown that middle-aged adults who regularly engage in leisure-time physical activity for more than a decade may benefit from lower levels of inflammation in later life – and, as a result, suffer less heart problems.
The research – funded by University College London, UK, and published in the latest issue of American Heart Association’s journal Circulation – also suggests that it is especially important for older people to be physically active in order to prevent heart disease.
For the study, more than 4,200 participants in the UK with an average age of 49 reported the duration and frequency of their leisure-time physical activities – such as brisk walking, vigorous gardening, cycling, sports, housework and home maintenance.
Results showed that physically active participants at baseline had lower C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 levels – two proteins in the blood whose increased levels indicate inflammation.
The difference remained stable over time when compared to participants that rarely adhered to physical activity guidelines during 10-year follow-up.
The study’s lead author, Mark Hamer, said any exercise and physical activity – such as walking, gardening, housework and home maintenance – was far better than none. He said: “It’s not just vigorous exercise and sports that are important.
“These leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health. It is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful ageing.”
The study also suggests that the older population is – relatively speaking – more active than today’s younger generation.
Overall, 49.1 percent of the participants met the standard physical activity recommendations for cardiovascular health (2.5 hours per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity). The rate reached 83 percent in subsequent phases of the study.
A recent study by the NHS showed that only 22 per cent of children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity outside school hours.