Middle aged should take heart, simple chores can boost health
14th August 2012
Have you ever come across a ‘sedentary’ slightly overweight middle aged person who has perhaps lived a relatively exercise-free life? No matter how much you try and reason with them about possibly kick-starting an exercise regime or getting more active, they are stubborn and refuse to listen. A common theme is usually ‘I am too old to start exercising now!’ The usual belief is that starting to become more physically active at a slightly older age will do little to help prolong or improve their life, or just a simple lack of interest. This negative mind-set is something Medical Specialists found to be recurring in smokers too, when we reported exactly two months ago that many  of them remarkably believe they are ‘too old’ to quit, which of course is nonsense. The findings from a new study though could hopefully go some way to help changing people’s attitudes when it comes to getting off their couch and becoming more involved in exercise. The University College London decided to investigate this subject by recruiting 4,200 participants who were all aged in their late 40s to early 50s, and have published their findings in the journal ‘Circulation’. According to the authors of the study, this age group can still benefit from becoming more active and that simple light activities can go some way to maintain a healthy heart and helping to fight off cardiovascular disease. This even includes simple daily chores such as vigorous gardening, house work and brisk walking. The news may be music to the ears of those around this age that are sometimes too busy to get into the gym and undergo a heavy, strenuous workout. For the study, Mark Hamer, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at the University College, and his colleagues, first tested the subjects from between 1991 to 1993, analysing their baseline numbers for important inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Those who had done regular activity in this time were discovered to have a reduced level of CRP and IL-6 when compared to those who had not engaged in much activity. This pattern was again evident during the ten year follow up examination. Hamer explains that the decreased levels of CRP and IL-6 in the more active people participants, means they are at a lower risk of heart disease. Hamer spoke on his findings via a press release and said, “Inflammatory markers are important because we have shown they are a key mechanism explaining the link between physical activity and the lower risk of heart disease. The people who benefited the most from this study were the ones that remained physically active.” Interestingly, the results were not affected when Hamer and his team considered any factors that could have impacted them, such as smoking or obesity. He says, “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 team also found that people seem to become more active in their retirement. Only approximately half of the participants in the study bothered to partake in moderate-to-vigorous activity for the recommended 2.5 hours a week for a healthy heart. After retirement, the figure shot up to 83%. Hamer gave his thoughts on the sudden increase and commented, “The percentage of exercising participants jumped quite a bit because they were entering their retirement during the last phase of the study. We have shown that retirement seems to have a beneficial effect on physical activity levels.” So, there you have it folks. Here we have clear evidence that you are never too old to make positive changes to your lifestyle and even lengthen your lifespan in the process of doing so. Never think the time has passed for you to get more active, quit those damaging cigarettes, or improve your diet. These are all things you can do TODAY and reap the rewards. Medical Specialists have reported the benefits of statins such as Crestor and Lipitor many times this year; however it seems the cholesterol-busting medications are not the only things that can reduce the risk of heart disease. This study shows that participating in very basic daily activities can help your heart too such as mowing the lawn, cutting those overgrown weeds and walking the dog.