POST 50
10/29/2013 07:52 am ET

Simple Physical Activity Can Improve Heart Health

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You don’t necessarily have to pump iron or run a marathon to keep yourself healthy. In fact, simple hobbies like gardening or home improvement may do the trick, a new study suggests.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found people over 60 with plenty of simple daily physical activities were found to have a 27 percent lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The study tracked around 4,000 participants in Stockholm for 12.5 years, measuring their cardiovascular condition and overall health. People with more daily activities, even simple things like fruit-picking or do-it-yourself projects, had a lower risk profile for cardiovascular problems, just like people who were exercising daily. They all had smaller waistlines, lower insulin levels, and lower levels of bad lipids.

Over the course of the study, 476 people suffered their first heart attack and 383 died from various causes. But those with higher levels of physical activity were 30 percent less likely to die from any cause, compared with those who had little daily activity. The Centers for Disease Control says being physically active for just an hour a day can cut your risk of an early death by 40 percent and can also reduce your risk of certain types of cancers.

"Our findings are particularly important for older adults, because individuals in this age group tend, compared to 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," researchers said in a release.

Indeed, most adults aren’t getting enough exercise -- particularly those over 65. In May, the Centers for Disease Control reported that only one in five American adults are getting the recommended amount of physical activity, with people over 65 being least likely.

Researchers believe that people who have more physical activity are healthier because standing and moving around stimulates the metabolism, whereas sitting slows it down. A similar 2012 study found that if people spend less than three hours a day sitting, they can add two years to their lifespan.

Now isn't that reason enough to get out there and get moving?

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