Seniors, Exercise and Heart Health

Exercise isn’t just for those who are relatively young; even those well past middle age can benefit from physical activity. Research from a team of Korean scientists further illustrates the importance of exercise for older adults.

Mounds of Data

This report cast a very wide net, encompassing over 1.1 million individuals. The data was provided to the authors by South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NIHS), an agency which serves nearly the entire country. Each of these individuals underwent two health checks, during which they were quizzed about their lifestyles and levels of physical activity. 

The authors made note of those with moderate and vigorous levels of exercise. The former was defined as at least thirty minutes daily of of dancing, gardening, or brisk walking; in contrast, the latter required twenty minutes or more of running, fast cycling, or aerobic exercise. 

At their first health check, some 78% of female subjects qualified as physically inactive. This figure remained nearly constant (77%) a few years later during the womens’ second checkup. Likewise, a solid majority of men were found to be physically inactive during their two checkups – 67% during their initial screening, and 66% during their second round of testing.

Healthier Life, Healthier Heart

Aside from the above findings, the authors also noted that physically inactive subjects who increased their exercise levels could enjoy better long term heart health. Specifically, those who went from being “continuously inactive” to “moderately or vigorously active” three to four times weekly enjoyed an 11 percent decrease in not only stroke, but also of heart disease. Conversely, subjects who became less active between the two check ups saw their risk of cardiovascular problems increase dramatically, to the tune of 27 percent. 

Kyuwoong Kim, the study’s lead author and a faculty member at Seoul National University, stated that “the most important message from this research is that older adults should increase or maintain their exercise frequency to prevent cardiovascular disease. 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.”

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