A ten-year study of older Americans shows that those who are physically active have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study included more than 4,000 men and women whose average age at the beginning of the study was 73 years old.
Walking Reduces the Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes:
Those who walked faster than three miles an hour were only half as likely to develop heart disease or a stroke as those who ambled slower than two miles an hour. The researchers found that those walking seven blocks a day or so cut their risk of stroke or cardiovascular disease by around 50 percent compared to people who walked five blocks or fewer a week.
Having Fun Can Help the Heart:
Active leisure activities such as yard work, swimming, biking or hiking were also protective against heart attacks and strokes. The lead author noted,
“Our study of older Americans shows that, even late in life, moderate physical activity such as walking is linked to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.”
One of the highlights of the study is that even people who were 75 or older at the beginning of it (and thus 85 or above by the time it ended) got protection from heart attacks and strokes by being active. Just the amount of walking needed to cover seven blocks in Boston, where the study took place, was helpful.
What Can You Do?
The take-home message here is Move! It’s never too late to start. To get the most benefit from your activity, pick something you like to do (dancing? yoga? walking the dog? all are good) so you will do it regularly and stick with it. Getting a buddy or a group of friends to join in is even better, as most people don’t want to let the gang down and so will show up for the walk. That way, all your friends can also enjoy the benefits that you will gain against heart attacks and strokes.
A Holiday Gift Suggestion:
Early this year, researchers found that devices that track activity or count steps can be helpful in giving walkers motivation or feedback to keep going. While you don’t need a fancy gadget to do this, you might know someone who would appreciate an electronic device or even an ordinary pedometer as a gift this year. It might help ward off heart attacks and strokes.
For more information and appointments, please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at CBlaisdell@CoreNewEngland.com
BTP/CORE New England