Staying healthy in middle age doesn’t mean you have to run the 10,000 meters in record times like Mo Farah!
Coming just after the 2012 London Olympics, the very latest British Study of health and exercise has been released by Dr Mark Hamer at University College London and has shown that taking up exercise even your 50’s and 60’s reduces the chances of having a heart attack and other heart problems.
According to the research even a moderate level of activity seems to suppress inflammation in the body which is thought to contribute to heart disease. Middle aged people who were part of the study were found to have lower “inflammatory markers” in their blood at the end of the ten year period of the study. Previous similar studies have only been carried out for much shorter periods of time.
Only doing two and a half hours a week of moderate activity in peoples midlife years could significantly decrease their chances of heart problems, according to the new research. The exercise doesn’t have to be very strenuous like running and gym work; it can just consist of brisk walks, gardening and DIY such as wallpapering.
The study which was published in the journal, Circulation, also suggests that it is never too late to start, with those who begin exercising in their 40’s and 50’s still deriving significant health benefits.
Dr Hamer, who led the research, said: ‘We should be encouraging more people to get active – for example, walking instead of taking the bus. You can gain health benefits from moderate activity at any time in your life.
The average age of the 4,000 participants was 49 and while keep-fit enthusiasts who had performed the recommended amount of exercise for the entire decade-long study had the lowest overall inflammatory levels, those who had only started exercising in their late 40’s also saw a drastic improvement in their inflammation levels.
UK Government guidelines already recommend at least two and a half hours of aerobic exercise a week for all adults and this study now backs that advice up.
Dr Hamer also commented that “retirement seems to have a beneficial effect of physical activity levels. People who spring into retirement and become more active are actually making a big difference in helping their hearts grow old and healthy. 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 ageing”.
Maureen Talbot a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the work, said: ‘Donning your gardening gloves or picking up a paint brush can still go a long way to help look after your heart health, as exercise can have a big impact on how well your heart ages.
‘This research highlights the positive impact changing your exercise habits can have on the future of your heart health – and that it’s never too late to re-energise your life.
‘However it’s important not to wait until you retire to get off the couch, as being active for life is a great way to keep your heart healthy.’
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