Sport & Exercise Science

Older adults benefit from improved elasticity of arteries after aerobic exercise

Just three months of physical activity provides heart health benefits for older adults with type 2 diabetes by improving the elasticity in their arteries.

This has the effect of reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, Dr Kenneth Madden told the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Dr Madden studied adults between the ages of 65 to 83 with controlled Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol to see how increased activity might affect the stiffness of the arteries.

“The theory is that aerobic activity makes your arteries less stiff and makes artery walls more elastic,” says Dr Madden, a geriatric specialist at the University of British Columbia.

An improvement was seen in the elasticity of the arteries of the group that performed the activity compared to those who didn’t exercise. “There was an impressive drop in arterial stiffness after just three months of exercise. In that time we saw a 15 to 20 percent reduction.”

Dr Madden says that the exercise requirements may be viewed as controversial because of the age of the participants but the exercise level was safe and well tolerated. “There seems to be a knee-jerk reluctance to getting these older adults to exercise yet we used a vigorous level of activity and didn’t have any trouble keeping participants in our study. They enjoyed the activity,” Dr Madden says. “People always underestimate what older adults can do.”

Dr Madden notes that realistically, seniors need someone to help them get started. “We need to learn how to do it effectively and how to do it safely,” he says. “It could mean visiting your family doctor to find out about locally funded programmes, or joining programmes for seniors that are offered at many local community centres.”

Source: Medical News Today

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