October 29, 2013
Daily Activities Boost Cardio Health For The Elderly
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Putting up a new shelf or planting flowers can do more than just add value to your property. According to a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, regular home repair and gardening can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke and prolong life by as much as 30 percent among adults ages 60 and up.The study researchers said these everyday activities can serve as a workout for people of a certain age who don't typically engage in much traditional exercise.
"A generally active daily life was, regardless of exercising regularly or not, associated with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults," the study authors wrote.
For their study, the researchers followed the cardiovascular health of almost 4,000 60-year-old residents of Stockholm, Sweden over a period of twelve years. At the start of the study, volunteers filled out a lifestyle survey that probed issues like diet, smoking, and alcohol intake, as well as how physically active they were. Participants were asked how frequently they had performed a range of daily life activities, such as gardening, home repair, car maintenance and blackberry picking over the previous 12 months as well as whether they participated in any formal exercise routines.
Their cardiovascular health was determined by lab tests and physical examinations, which looked at blood fats, sugars, and clotting factor, high levels of which indicate an elevated heart attack and stroke risk.
At the beginning of the study, participants who had an active daily life had a much lower risk profile for cardiovascular problems than participants with lower levels of daily activity, regardless of any formal exercise routine. Participants who did a lot of formal exercise, but who weren't active daily were also found to be good cardiovascular health. Study volunteers who exercised regularly and were also active daily had the lowest risk profile of all.
This healthier profile included smaller waistlines, lower levels of blood fats, and lower glucose, insulin, and clotting factor levels in men. During the twelve-year monitoring period, almost 480 of the participants had their first heart attack and more than 380 died from a wide range of causes. The highest level of daily activity was connected to a 27 percent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke and a 30-percent reduced risk of death from all causes compared with the lowest activity level.
"Our findings are particularly important for older adults, because individuals in this age group tend, compared to 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," the authors concluded.
The scientists added that the biological reason for their findings might be in energy expenditure: extended periods of sitting slows down the body’s metabolism, while standing up and being physically active increases metabolism.
The researchers also speculated that muscular contractions may also be a reason behind the study findings. Being sedentary doesn't require much muscular effort and can negatively affect skeletal muscles’ normal hormone production, with potentially unfavorable effects on other body organs and tissues.