Previous studies have revealed that engaging in physical activity can help older adults maintain a healthy brain and prevent falls. It can also lower their cardiovascular disease risk, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University of Bristol in England recently conducted a trial, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, to determine how activity among older adults might influence the risk of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
To do so, they examined more than 1,600 British volunteers, aged 60 to 64. The participants wore heart rate and movement sensors, which monitored their physical activity like slow to brisk walking, stretching, golfing, gardening, dancing, lawn mowing or vacuuming.
The scientists also evaluated the participants’ blood levels for markers of inflammation, blood vessel function, and cholesterol, which are all predictors of heart disease.
After analyzing the results, they found each additional 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity, like dancing, brisk walking or vacuuming, was associated with leptin levels that were 3.7 percent lower in men and 6.6 percent lower in women. Increased levels of leptin, a protein that regulates fat storage, can be indicative of obesity and high cholesterol.
Furthermore, they discovered more time in low-intensity activity had positive effects on inflammation and tissue-plasminogen activator, a protein involved in the breakdown of blood clots.
“In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It’s important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group. We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity,” coauthor Ahmed Elhakeem said in a statement. “We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity.”
The scientists believe physical activity is healthy for the heart, because it helps reduce the risk atherosclerosis, the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls. They said it also improves overall blood vessel function.
“The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change,” Elhakeem said. “It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity.”
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