Elderly people face a lower risk of developing cardio-vascular disease (CVD) if they regularly undertake long, fast walks, a new study from the US has found.
The report, which used a sample of both men and women over the age of 75, found that those who were more active could significantly reduce the risk of future heart disease or strokes.
Researchers at Tufts University monitored the health of the sample group over a 10-year period, with participants aged 73 on average as the study commenced.
A range of physical activities were also measured in order to draw correlations, including walking pace, walking distance and engagement in active leisure activities. All were found to positively affect health outcomes and lower the risk of heart disease in later life.
Participants that had an average walking speed above 5kmph were 50% less likely to be afflicted by coronary heart or cardiovascular disease than those who walked at 3kmph. A similar figure was recorded for stroke risk, with the 5kmph group found to be 53% less likely to suffer such an episode.
Distance was another factor, with those who walked seven blocks (approximately 640m) on average per day 36% less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who walked five blocks (approximately 455m) on average. The former were also found to be 54% less likely to suffer a stroke in future.
Regular participation in leisure activities was also found to have a positive correlation, although exact figures were difficult to extrapolate as the number of variables and potential secondary influencers increased exponentially.
Fiona Lowry, CEO of The Good Care Group, commented: “Our own research on live-in care has shown us that an active lifestyle is not only integral to maintaining an elderly person’s physical health and wellbeing, but also being out and about can give loved ones a generally better quality of life, and can ameliorate the decline of conditions such as dementia. We welcome this new research and hope that it will contribute towards the overall improvement of care services for the elderly.”