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Exercise lowers heart disease risk for older adults, study shows

In the study, people who were inactive -- and those already exercised -- saw benefits to heart disease risk by increasing their physical activity.

By HealthDay News
Exercise lowers heart disease risk for older adults, study shows
Older adults who increase their physical activity can lower their risk for heart disease, a new study of South Korean health data shows. File Photo by qimono/Pixabay

Nov. 14 -- Regular exercise lowers older adults' risk of heart disease and stroke, even if they have health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes, researchers say.

For the new study, researchers analyzed data from more than 1 million people aged 60 and older in South Korea. The study participants' health was checked in 2009 to 2010, again in 2011 to 2012, and they were followed until the end of 2016.

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People who were inactive at the start and then became moderately to vigorously active three to four times a week by the 2011-2012 health check had an 11 percent reduced risk of heart disease, the findings showed.

Those who were moderately or vigorously active once or twice a week at the start lowered their risk 10 percent if they increased their physical activity to five or more times a week.

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But those who became less active saw their risk rise. Participants who were moderately or vigorously active more than five times a week initially but had become inactive at the second check had a 27 percent higher risk of heart disease, the study found.

Even those with disabilities and chronic conditions lowered their risk if they went from inactive to moderately or vigorously active three to four times a week. The risk was 16 percent lower for those with disabilities, and between 4 percent and 7 percent lower for those with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, the researchers said.

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The study was published online Nov. 8 in the European Heart Journal.

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"While older adults find it difficult to engage in regular physical activity as they age, our research suggests that it is necessary to be more physically active for cardiovascular health, and this is also true for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions," said study leader Kyuwoong Kim, a doctoral student in biomedical sciences at Seoul National University, in South Korea.

The finding is important, he said, because the world's population of people aged 60 years and older is expected to be 2 billion by 2050, up from 900 million in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

More information

RELATED Ultra-processed foods linked with higher risk of heart disease

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about physical activity.

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