A new study from Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam has suggested that the benefits of exercise could potentially outweigh the impact of obesity on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged and elderly people.
Over 5,000 people aged 55 years and above were studied over a period of 15 years and it was found that during that timeframe 16 per cent of participants had a cardiovascular incident. When analysed alone exercise was linked to a decreased risk of CVD irrespective of BMI category (normal weight, overweight or obese). There was no association found between BMI alone and CVD.
After analysing the joint effects of exercise and BMI, the study found that when compared to people of normal weight with high physical activity levels, obese or overweight people who also had high levels of exercise were not at an increased risk of CVD. However, obese or overweight individuals with low levels of exercise had 1.33 and 1.35 times higher risk for developing CVD respectively.
Dr Klodian Dhana, author of the report, said: “Overweight and obesity is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and it is recommended to lose weight. But in the elderly, this is slightly different because weight loss, especially unintentional, is associated with muscle loss and death. Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of CVD regardless of age.”
This follows similar research from the University of Leicester, University College London, Loughborough University and the University of Sydney, revealing that those who are only able to exercise at the weekend were still able to protect themselves against CVD. Fitting exercise into one or two days a week saw people achieve a 40 per cent lower risk of dying of CVD than inactive people, compared to a 41 per cent drop in risk for those who exercised throughout the week.
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