Gardening, home improvements help reduce heart/stroke risk

Oct. 29, 2013 at 3:00 PM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Gardening and home do-it-yourself projects can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 30 percent in those age 60 and older, researchers in Sweden say.

Elin Ekblom-Bak of Karolinska University Hospital, Bjorn Ekblom of the The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Max Vikstrom of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska University Hospital and colleagues based their findings on almost 4,000 60-year-olds in Stockholm, whose cardiovascular health was tracked for about 12.5 years.

At the start of the study, participants took part in a health check, which included information on lifestyle, such as diet, smoking, and alcohol intake and how physically active they were.

The study participants were asked how often they had included a range of daily life activities, such as gardening, DIY, car maintenance and blackberry picking in the previous 12 months, as well as any formal exercise.

Their cardiovascular health was assessed by lab tests and physical examinations and check for blood fats, blood sugars and blood clotting factor -- high levels of which are linked to a raised heart attack and stroke risk.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found the highest level of daily physical activity was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke and a 30 percent reduced risk of death from all causes, compared with the lowest level of activity, irrespective of how much regular formal exercise was taken in addition.

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