Exercising for 20 minutes a day in your 70s appears to be the best way older adults can live longer without heart problems, a new study reveals. Scientists in Italy say the moderate to vigorous physical activity reduced the risk of developing heart disease when these individuals reached their 80s.
Researchers have long known that physical activity lengthens lifespans and reduces the risk from cardiovascular disease, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Until now, however, few studies have probed whether exercise later in life can ward off heart attacks and strokes during old age.
When the study began, women were more likely than men to have more than four co-existing conditions. Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic kidney disease were more common among women than men, while diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were more common among men.
Participants filled out questionnaires about how much exercise they did. Moderate exercise included walking, aerobic exercise, and fishing, while vigorous activity included working out at the gym, cycling, dancing, swimming, and gardening.
Study authors considered people who completed 20 minutes of exercise or more to be “active.” Results show men were more likely to be physically active than women.
Results show an active lifestyle and physical activity over time had a link to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death in both men and women. The team found the biggest reduction in risk among new cases of coronary heart disease and heart failure during late old age. However, the team did not find any significant link between exercise and the risk of suffering a stroke.