Even Moderate Exercise Helps Your Heart
People who exercise consistently in middle age can improve their heart health even if the exercise isn’t overly strenuous, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal “Circulation,” found that walking and even gardening or vigorous housework could reduce signs of inflammation in the heart.
“It’s not just vigorous exercise and sports that are important,” lead author Mark Hamer said in a statement. “These leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health. It is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful aging.”
Hamer and his colleagues at University College, London, in the UK, surveyed more than 4,000 people who were, on average, 49 years old when the study began in the early 1990s. The participants reported on the consistency and duration of activities including bicycling, walking, housework, home maintenance and gardening. The participants were measured for changes in health in 1999 and again in 2010.
At the beginning of the study, 49.1 percent of the participants met the standard physical recommendations for cardiovascular health (2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity per week). By the end of the study, that figure had risen to 83 percent, prompting the researchers to theorize that people have more time to exercise after they retire.
Those who exercised consistently showed lower inflammatory “markers,” researchers said, but even those who were inactive at first and then became active showed signs of lowered markers as well.