Low levels of physical activity beneficial to elderly adults
Elderly adults also benefit from physical activity, according to a new study, which reports that even low levels of physical activity confer substantial improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk compared with no physical activity at all.
The association between different levels of physical activity and the risk of CVD was analysed in 24,502 adults, who were grouped according to age: <55 years (n=9,468; mean age 49.2±3.4 years; 42.7 percent male), between 55 and 65 years (n=7,597; mean age 59.9±2.9 years; 44.4 percent male) and >65 years (n=7,467; mean age 70.2±3.3 years; 45.5 percent male).
Questionnaires were used to evaluate physical activity, which was divided into four levels: active, moderately active, moderately inactive and inactive. Deaths and hospitalizations due to cardiovascular causes were also noted.
Over a median follow-up of 18.0 years, corresponding to 412,954 person-years, CVD events were reported in 874 participants in the <55 years age group, 1,650 in the 55 to 65 years age group and 2,716 in the >65 years age group.
In the fully-adjusted models, physical activity did not seem to affect the risk of CVD events in participants belonging in the <55 years age group. That is, compared with inactive participants, those who were moderately inactive (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03; 95 percent CI, 0.84 to 1.26; p=0.77), moderately active (HR, 0.85; 0.69 to 1.05; p=0.13) and active (HR, 0.95; 0.76 to 1.18; p=0.62) did not have lower CVD risks.
On the other hand, in the 55 to 65 years age group, active participants (HR, 0.84; 0.72 to 0.99; p=0.03) had significantly lower CVD risks while those who were moderately inactive (HR, 0.89; 0.77 to 1.02; p=0.09) had modestly lower risks compared with inactive participants. Moderately active participants (HR, 0.99; 0.86 to 1.14; p=0.85) did not have significantly improved risks.
Notably, among adults aged >65 years, moderately inactive (HR, 0.86; 0.78 to 0.96; p=0.005) and moderately active (HR, 0.87; 0.77 to 0.99; p=0.03) participants had significantly lower CVD risks while active individuals (HR, 0.88; 0.77 to 1.02; p=0.08) had borderline significant results.