Even daily activities can cut heart risk in older adults – study

When it comes to preventing heart attacks, any form of work proves beneficial. According to the Swedish researchers, activities such as gardening, do-it-yourself jobs and normal housework chores may be as effective as formal exercise in cutting the risk of heart attack and stroke among the 60-plus age group.

The study conducted by the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences and the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm found that just by avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and keeping busy with daily activities helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular ailments by 30 percent and increased longevity.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at 4,232 people, over the age of 60.

Participants were required to provide details of their daily activity levels including activities like gardening, do-it-yourself tasks, car maintenance, etc and formal exercise, if any. Information about their lifestyle habits like diet, smoking and drinking was also collected.

Participants underwent blood screening to assess levels of fat and sugar, the prime markers of heart health.

During the 12.5-year follow-up period, 476 of the participants suffered their first heart attack and 383 died from various causes.

Researchers found that 60-year-olds who were most active on daily basis had the lowest risk of cardiovascular ailments, while those who enjoyed a sedentary lifestyle faced the highest risk.

However, simply being active and carrying out the daily activities without any formal exercise also helped lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, researchers established.

Researchers found that 60-year-olds who simply remained active on a daily basis reported a 27 percent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke and a 30 percent reduced risk of death from all causes.

“A generally active daily life had important beneficial associations with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults, which seemed to be regardless of regular exercise,” study’s lead researcher, Dr Elin Ekblom-Bak at Karolinska University marked.

“Our findings are particularly important for older adults, because individuals in this age group tend, compared with other age groups, to spend a relatively greater proportion of their active day performing [routine activities] as they often find it difficult to achieve recommended exercise intensity levels,” Ekblom-Bak added.

The findings of the study are reported in the current issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine

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