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Even a Late Exercise Start Cuts Heart Risks

Dr. Robert John Petrella and colleagues at the University of Western Ontario, London, examined the effect of exercise training on the development of metabolic markers of cardiovascular disease in two groups of healthy but sedentary adults between the ages of 55 and 75 years.
One group began regular supervised physical exercise training and the other remained sedentary and acted as a comparison “control” group. Baseline fitness levels were similar between groups.
After 10 years, complete data were available for 161 active and 136 sedentary participants.
Active subjects demonstrated a 3.5 percent increase in fitness levels versus a 13.8 percent decrease in the sedentary group, the team reports in the medical journal Diabetes Care.
Sedentary participants exhibited significantly more metabolic abnormalities than active patients.
Overall, after 10 years 11 percent of active patients and 28 percent of sedentary patients had the so-called metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and obesity that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes.
In the active group, those who moved from low to moderate to high fitness showed significantly fewer metabolic markers compared to those who remained at a low fitness levels or moved to a lower level.
“Our next step,” Petrella told Reuters Health, “is to expand the impact into the broader community.”
He said the message that exercise really benefits older patients “could have the best impact if it were delivered by primary care physicians,” since they have “greatest contact with most of the population at risk for cardiovascular disease.”

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