As you get older, your bones and muscles may not be as strong as they used to be. Getting around and doing daily tasks becomes much harder. So, meeting the suggested 150 minutes of exercise each week suggested by The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans seem out of reach for many older adults. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found that for older adults who have trouble being mobile, heart health benefits can still be gained from small amounts of physical activity.
The Lifestyles Interventions and Independence for Elders Study looked at over 1,000 adults aged 74 to 84 who had trouble moving around. The researchers checked the subjects for heart disease risk by looking at factors such as age, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. They checked how active the subjects were by having them wear devices called accelerometers. These devices measured the level of exercise by counts per minute. The researchers divided the results into three groups:
- Inactive: 99 counts or less per minute
- Light daily tasks (like slow walking or light housekeeping): 100 to 499 per minute
- Moderate exercise: over 500 counts per minute
The older adults with no history of heart disease who were in the light daily tasks group had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. This means they had a lower risk of heart disease than inactive people. For every 30 minutes of being inactive, older adults had a 1% higher risk of getting heart disease over a 10-year period. Therefore, it is suggested that by simply avoiding sitting for as much as possible during the day, those who are less able to be mobile can still help their heart by doing light walking and movement during the day. Every movement counts when it comes to improving heart health.