Moderate physical activities such as walking and cycling are associated with a greater than 50 per cent reduction in cardiovascular death in people over the age of 65, says a study.
"Our study provides further evidence that older adults who are physically active have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease," said one of the researchers, Riitta Antikainen, professor of geriatrics at the University of Oulu, Finland.
"The protective effect of leisure time physical activity is dose dependent – in other words, the more you do, the better. Activity is protective even if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol," Antikainen noted.
The study assessed the association between leisure time physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk and mortality in 2,456 men and women aged 65 to 74 years who were enrolled into the National FINRISK Study between 1997 and 2007.
Participants were followed up until the end of 2013.
The researchers classified self-reported physical activity as moderate levels of physical activity as walking, cycling or doing other forms of light exercise (fishing, gardening, hunting) at least four hours a week.
They defined high levels of physical activity as recreational sports (running, jogging, skiing, gymnastics, swimming, ball games or heavy gardening) or intense training or sports competitions at least three hours a week.
During a median follow-up of 11.8 years, 197 participants died from cardiovascular disease and 416 had a first CVD event.
The investigators found that moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 31 per cent and 45 per cent reduced risk of an acute cardiovascular event respectively.
Moderate and high leisure time physical activity were associated with a 54 per cent and 66 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality.
The findings were presented at the ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress 2016 in Rome.