It is important for all people, regardless of age, to stay heart healthy. For senior citizens, this is doubly important and doubly difficult. Mobility issues or joint pain may make it difficult to stay active, which is a vital part of preventing cardiovascular disease and its complications. But new research suggests that even light activity, such as household chores, can be better for the heart than no activity at all.
A recently study looked at seniors’ risk of heart disease and its complications over a 10 year period. The researchers found that the risk tended to rise along with the amount of time the participants were inactive each time. Conversely, risks were lowered with the more active time they had, regardless of intensity level.
The research team, led by Thomas Buford of the University of Florida, wanted to focus a study on light activity. Most studies conducted on activity and heart disease revolve around moderate to vigorous exercise. Using data from a previous study conducted on how light activity can boost mobility in seniors, the researchers found that overall the seniors’ 10-year risk of heart disease or its complications increased by about one percent for every 25-30 minutes spent inactive per day. Interestingly, the risk of the same complications decreased by around the same amount with every minute of activity, even if it was light chores or moving around the home.
Researchers believe that these results are promising but that additional studies will need to be conducted on the subject. Buford noted that one limitation of this particular study was the lack of proof that inactivity causes heart disease. He added though that once follow ups were conducted, it could be that incorporating more light activity could be an effective way for people, and especially seniors, to gain cardiovascular benefits.
Dr. David Frid, who was not part of the research team, stated that these results confirmed what scientists have always believed, which is that as people age their cardiovascular risks go up. He warned that seniors looking to get more active should always consult their health care provider to ensure that they are healthy enough for certain exercises, such as walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. He believes that the light activity associated with household chores are a good starting off point, as they can reduce heart disease risks without putting undue strain on the body.
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