Maintaining Physical Activity Important For Healthy Aging

Luisa Soares-Miranda, PhD Research Center in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure Faculty of Sport, University of Porto Rua Dr. Plácido Costa, Porto PORTUGAL MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Luisa Soares-Miranda, PhD
Research Center in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure
Faculty of Sport, University of Porto
Rua Dr. Plácido Costa,
Porto PORTUGAL

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Soares-Miranda: Modest physical activity, such as the distance and pace of walking, is important for the heart’s electrical well being of older adults. In our study, older adults that increased their walking pace or distance had a better heart rate variability when compared with those that decreased their walking pace or distance. Our results suggest not only that regular physical activity later in life is beneficial, but also that certain beneficial changes that occur may be reduced when physical activity is reduced. This supports the need to maintain modest physical activity throughout the aging process. Even small increases can lead to a better health, while reducing physical activity has the opposite effect. So, any physical activity is better than none, and more is better.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Soares-Miranda: A broad type of physical activities exists however, with aging, walking predominates as the major physical activity and is a good way to achieve physical activity recommendations for aerobic exercise. I think that if a senior feels confortable with his/her usually physical activity (independently of what the chosen activity is), he or she should not slow down and should try to slowly do more in terms of duration and intensity. If walking is the main physical activity, try to walk an extra block or walk at a faster pace. It is never too late to start and to do more.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Soares-Miranda: Continue to show that being physically active is beneficial, not only on an individually basis but also at a social level. In my understanding, everyone benefits.

Citation:

Physical Activity and Heart Rate Variability in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study

Luisa Soares-Miranda, Jacob Sattelmair, Paulo Chaves, Glen Duncan, David S. Siscovick, Phyllis K. Stein, and Dariush Mozaffarian

Circulation. 2014;CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005361published online before print May 5 2014, doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005361