Since the advent of low-cost accelerometers, like the one in near every modern phone, the data obtained from studies of exercise has improved greatly. In the scientific world of the study of exercise and aging, in which it can take a decade or two for enough epidemiological evidence to accumulate to change minds, accelerometers are still a comparatively recent innovation. The study noted here is an example of the sort of work being accomplished in this context. Like most such studies, the data strongly suggests that exercise slows the onset of cardiovascular aging, and thus lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Should we view it as a failure of the established, mainstream approach to research and development of therapies to treat age-related disease that exercise remains one of the best and most reliable options on the table? Quite possibly. This is an era of accelerating, revolutionary progress in the tools and capabilities of biotechnology. The research community should have achieved far more than it has to date. The failure to do so is arguably due to the adoption of an ineffective strategy, one that largely revolves around attempts to adjust the late stage disease state rather than seeking to address root causes.
Adults in their early 60s, who spend less time sitting and more time engaged in light to vigorous physical activity, benefit with healthier levels of heart and vessel disease markers. Physical inactivity is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death from cardiovascular disease. Physical activity's protective effect is likely due in part to its impact on biomarkers in the blood that help predict atherosclerosis risk.
"The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change. It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity. In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It's important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group. We found it's important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity."
Researchers studied more than 1,600 British volunteers, age 60 to 64, who wore heart rate and movement sensors for five days. The sensors revealed not only how much physical activity, in general, they were doing, but also how much light physical activity, such as slow walking, stretching, golfing, or gardening, versus moderate-to-vigorous activity, such as brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, tennis, squash, lawn mowing, or vacuuming.
Researchers analyzed participants' blood levels for markers of cardiovascular disease, including inflammatory markers and cholesterol markers. Each additional 10-minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity was associated with leptin levels that were 3.7 percent lower in men and 6.6 percent lower in women. Each additional 10-minutes spent sedentary was associated with 0.6 percent higher IL-6 levels in men and 1.4 percent higher IL-6 levels in women. Each additional 10-minutes spent in light intensity activity was associated with around 0.8% lower tissue-plasminogen activator levels in both men and women. Based on the study's findings, physical activity might lower cardiovascular disease risk by improving blood vessel function. Increased sedentary time may be adversely related to endothelial function.