Seniors should increase physical activity to reduce heart disease

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A recent study has indicated that older people who go for more walks lower their risk of a heart attack.

It is a well known fact that as a person becomes older, their risk of a heart attack starts to increase. The study indicated that those over the age of 65 who increase or maintain physical activity, the risk of heart attack can be reduced and their overall heart health improved.

The researchers used data from 985 adults as part of the Cardiovascular Health Study, which is a community-based study of the risk of heart disease in those aged 65 and older. The average age of the participants was 71.

Participants had to wear a heart monitor 24 hours a day for a period of five years. This allowed for the recording of their heart rate variability, which is the difference in time between each beat of the heart.

According to the lead of the research team, Luisa Soares-Miranda, heart health and the nervous system influence the time differences. She said that early abnormalities can be noted by picking up changes in the heart rate variances, which makes it possible to predict the risk of heart attacks and death.

Reduction of 11%

The research team discovered that the more physical activity the participants undertook during the period of study, the better the variability of their heart rate.

Those who increased their physical activity by increasing their walking pace or distance, experienced better results than those who reduced their pace or distance.

The calculations of the difference between the lowest and highest levels of physical activity allowed the researchers to determine that those who had the highest levels could reduce their heart attack or sudden cardiac death risk rate by 11%.

It is common knowledge that any form of physical activity is better than no activity at all. However, Soares-Miranda stated that the results they achieved indicate that a boost in physical activity as you age has added benefits for your heart health.

Last year, research carried out by University College London, produced similar results. Researchers tracked the health patterns of around 3500 individuals between the ages of mid-50s and early 70s for a period of eight years. They found that participants who did not develop depressive symptoms, physical impairment, cognitive impairment or major chronic diseases, were those who participated in regular exercise.

A senior cardiac nurse at the UK British Health Foundation, Doireann Maddock, states that it is never too late to commence an exercise plan. She added however that the sooner you start the better for your health and every minute counts.

Image Credit: Bromford

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