Ride a bike, take a swim, walk your dog: Even a “moderate” amount of exercise each week may drastically reduce the odds a person aged 65 or older will die from heart disease.
The effects of exercise are dose-dependent—the more you do, the better. In a recent study of seniors without chronic illness over a period of twelve years, each participant was rated as a low, moderate or high exerciser. Low exercisers spent their time mostly reading or watching TV, and did very little activity. Moderate exercise included activities such as walking, cycling or gardening at least four hours per week. High exercisers participated in more intense activities, such as jogging, skiing, swimming, ball games, or even heavy gardening, at least three hours per week.
Moderate exercise can greatly lower your risk for cardiovascular events
After adjusting for other heart risk factors—such as high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol levels—the researchers found that even a moderate level of activity greatly boosted a senior’s health. Compared to people with low activity, people at the moderate level achieved an average 31 percent lower odds for a cardiovascular “event” (such as a heart attack), and 54 percent lower odds of dying during the study period.
Things got even better for those who exercised more intensely. Those in the high-activity category saw a 45 percent reduction
in heart events, plus a 66 percent boost in survival over the next 12 years. An active lifestyle reduces the impact of other diseases which may account for the boost in survival.
The time to become more physically active is now
Arteriosclerosis—the inflammation of your vessel walls—is a thing that happens from second to second. So the moment that you decide to become more physically active, you change the whole process. It’s never too late to start moving more.
Find out more about the powerful benefits of exercise at the American Heart Association.