Regular Activities May Improve Heart Health in Older Adults

Published Online: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
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Older adults who spend more time engaged in daily activities and less time sitting may have a reduced risk of suffering cardiovascular events, regardless of time spent in formal exercise, a Swedish study suggests.

The researchers of the study evaluated the association between non-exercise physical activity and cardiovascular health in 4232 participants 60 years and older. Participants completed questionnaires about their daily physical activity, including formal exercise as well as other activities such as gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and car maintenance. Cardiovascular health was assessed through physical examinations and laboratory tests at baseline and was followed for an average of 12.5 years. The findings of the study were published online on October 28, 2013, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Those who reported high levels of non-exercise physical activity were 27% less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke and 30% less likely to die of any cause compared with those who reported less active lifestyles. The results also indicated that regardless of formal exercise habits, those who spent more time on their feet had better levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides and were less likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who spent more time sitting. Insulin, glucose, and fibrinogen levels were also lower among men with high levels of non-exercise physical activity compared with less active men.

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