Spring 2016

Easy Does It

A little exercise is better than none at all, according to a Tufts study of older Americans

People who may need to exercise the most for better health often talk themselves out of it, thinking it’s either too hard or too time-consuming. But a recent large-scale study out of Tufts shows that these concerns are exaggerated.

The study analyzed the daily activities of 4,207 Americans who were 73 years old. Participants were followed for a decade. The findings revealed that walking faster than three miles per hour on regular rounds cut the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 50 percent in both men and women. Risk of stroke was trimmed by 53 percent.

300W_Gleeson_Exercise

Illustration: Amanda Gleeson

In addition, walking an average of as short a distance as seven city blocks reduced CHD by 36 percent, stroke by 54 percent and CVD by 47 percent. Lawn mowing, raking and gardening were other simple, routine activities that lowered the risk of these same ailments.

“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,” said Luisa Soares-Miranda, a study author and a postdoctoral student at the University of Porto in Portugal. Senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, added: “The results were especially relevant because with advancing age, the ability to perform vigorous types of activities often decreases.”

The research was published in the journal Circulation.

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