Study: Even in Their 80s, the Elderly Can Benefit from Exercise

According to a new study, as little as twenty minutes of exercise a day would significantly reduce the risk of heart disease in the elderly. The results of the study were discussed in a recent piece by The Print.

Research into how the elderly could reduce their risk of heart attacks had already concluded that even in late old age, the elderly could begin exercising and still experience meaningful benefits. There appears to be no age at which starting exercise has no benefits.

The medical literature long ago concluded that physical activity greatly reduced the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease and aided in longevity. These findings have held true regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. The compounding effects of time spent exercising mean that even with moderate amounts of exercise, there can be significant long-term benefits.

However, what makes this study unique is that it focused completely on people in late old age, that is, adults in their 70s and 80s and above.

Researchers used data from an Italian study of 3,099 older adults aged 65 and above. The study, known as the ProVA for “Progetto Veneto Anziani”, collected data on the participants’ medical history, and used a series of blood tests, scans and physical examinations between 1995 and 1997. Four and seven years after 1997, two other assessments were conducted.

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Initially, women were found to have four or more coexisting conditions, with greater incidences of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and chronic kidney disease. Men were found to have a higher incidence of diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Throughout the study, participants were regularly asked to complete questionnaires about their level of physical activity. Moderate activity was defined as bowling, fishing, walking, whereas vigorous activity was defined as gym work-outs, gardening, dancing, cycling, swimming and dancing.

Participants with twenty minutes or more of physical activity a day were regarded as active whereas those with less than twenty minutes were defined as inactive. Men were assumed to be more likely to engage in physical activity. Changes in levels of physical activity were broken down from stable low (inactive throughout the study), high decreasing (starting from active and ending at inactive), low increasing (inactive to active) and stable high (active throughout the study).

Other key contributory factors were collected and assed. Thereupon, the health of the participants was monitored throughout the study. For example, participants had to measure kombucha pH levels of their kombucha drinks, and its effects on the patient’s health were assessed.

The ProVA study’s conclusion gave definitive evidence that having high levels of physical activity, or increasing physical activity, was associated with low or declining risk of heart failure, heart disease and strokes. By using this data, research has found that the benefits extend to those in their 80s. Although people can still gain from exercise late in life, the greatest impact to cardiovascular health and longevity comes from starting physical activity early on in life.