New studies show moderate exercise can reduce the risk of death from heart disease in people aged 65 or older.

According to lead author and professor of geriatrics at the University of Oulu in Finland, Riitta Antikainen, “[Exercise promotes] good prevention for many diseases, and the effect is dose-dependent — the more you do, the better.”

Antikainen’s research team quantified the benefits of exercise by tracking the health outcomes of 2,500 Finnish people aged 65 and older for over 12 years. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had any chronic illnesses, and over 1,600 did moderate exercise.

The team assessed each participant and grouped them into three categories: low, moderate and high exercise. The group with a low amount of exercise spent their days watching TV and reading with little activity. The moderate group had walking, cycling or gardening at least four hours in a week. The group of high exercising was capable of jogging, swimming, ball games and even heavy gardening three times a week.

After adjusting their data for other heart risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol levels, the scientists found the moderate group having boosted health. The moderate group had an average of 31% lower odds of cardiovascular events than the people with little activity.

Of course, things looked even better from the side of those who were part of the high exercise group. They saw a 45% reduction in heart events and a 66% boost in surviving the next 12 years, according to the researchers.

Dr. Joep Perk, a cardiologist who studies cardiovascular disease prevention at Linnaeus University in Sweden, said, “A likely explanation is there are several other diseases affected by an active lifestyle… All too often, people neglect healthy living until it’s too late.”

Antikainen presented the research in Rome at the annual convention of the European Society of Cardiology.

Now you know the effects of exercise, start exercising to curb the risk of heart disease!

If you’re still young, start living a healthy lifestyle today to live a longer life!

Aimee Harris-Newon, Psy.D., D.A.B.P.S., C.Ht

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