When it comes to exercise, doing something is better than doing nothing at all – particularly when you are elderly.
That's the message from a Swedish study of 4,232 people over the age of 60.
Researchers at the Karolinksa University Hospital in Stockholm found physically active lifestyles reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 27 percent and death from any cause by 30 percent.
Being active and doing formal exercise produced the best health outcomes for people. But any sort of activity,whether it was pottering around the garden or doing do-it-yourself repairs around the house, could improve the cardiovascular health of older adults – and help them to live longer, the study found.
"Our findings are particularly important for older adults, because individuals in this age group tend, compared with 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 researchers wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Sitting on the sofa for prolonged periods slows the metabolic rate which can affect hormone production and lead to organ and tissue damage.
Experts who have read the study said the results could be applied to all ages.
"Although this study only examined people aged 60, it is reasonable to assume that the more active someone is throughout their life, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease," Dr. Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield/Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was quoted as saying.