According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, following this lifestyle during adulthood may be the key to cardiometabolic health in old age.
Risk factors for the elderly include metabolic syndrome, a range of disorders such as excess fat around the waist, insulin resistance and hypertension. The presence of the syndrome may even increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
How the study was done
- Study participants were selected from the Framingham Heart Study, a database started about 70 years ago.
- Participants (54% were women and the average age was 47 years old) were examined between 2008 and 2011.
- The researchers assessed physical activity using a specialized device known as an omnidirectional accelerometer. The device, which tracks physical and sedentary activities, was worn on the participant’s hips for eight days.
- The team in charge also collected dietary information from food frequency questionnaires to measure the types and levels of foods and nutrients consumed.
In this investigation, the researchers observed that, among all participants, 28% met the recommendations of both the physical activity and dietary guidelines, while 47% reached the recommendations of only one of the guidelines.
The researchers also noted that:
- Those who followed only physical activity recommendations were 51% less likely to have metabolic syndrome;
- The group that adopted only dietary guidelines was 33% less likely;
- Participants who followed both guidelines were 65% less likely to develop the metabolic syndrome.
All study participants were white adults, so the results cannot be generalized to people in other racial or ethnic groups. The authors believe that additional studies with a multiethnic sample of participants will be necessary.
For those who are already elderly, physical activity also makes a difference
Another survey, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, pointed out that brisk walking can benefit brain health and cognitive ability in elderly people with memory impairment.
The analysis followed, for a year, 70 people between 55 and 70 years old with early signs of memory loss. According to the published results, the participants improved their cognitive ability after they started walking frequently.
Regular practice has also increased the healthy flow of blood to the brain.
The changes in their brains and minds were subtle, but consequential, the study concludes, and could have implications not only for those with serious memory problems, but for the general population, which tends to have a weakened memory over the years.
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