Daily Exercise May Cut Heart Disease Risk in Older People

March 2, 2022 — Increased levels of physical activity and an active lifestyle appear to be linked to a lower risk of heart disease in later life, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at how different patterns of physical activity are linked with heart disease in older women and men and found that more activity was associated with lower rates of heart conditions and death.

The greatest reduction in risk was seen in those who did more than 20 minutes of physical exercise each day and was more pronounced at 70 years of age.

“Physical activity is likely to be beneficial at any age, but to summarize our findings, we could say that when it comes to being physically active, the sooner the better,” says lead researcher Claudio Barbiellini Amidei, MD, of the University of Padua in Italy.

The paper was published in the journal Heart on Feb. 14.

Researchers examined data on 3,099 Italians who were 65 or older. They evaluated them from 1995 to 1997 and did follow-up visits at 4 years and 7 years. The study team used surveys, hospital records, or clinical assessments to identify cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart diseases.

Results showed that physical activity was linked with reduced rates of new heart disease. Men had a significantly lower risk, which was stronger around age 70-75 years.

“Physical activity, even just 20 minutes, is very helpful even at older ages. People need to continue physical activity at older ages and if sedentary, it is not too late to start even in those 65-75 years of age,” says Carl “Chip” Lavie, MD, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the University of Queensland School of Medicine in New Orleans, who was not involved in the study.

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