• Two-and-a-half hours of light exercise a week can suppress inflammation in the body – which is believed to contribute to heart disease
  • The exercise simply has to raise the heart rate to be of benefit
  • People of all ages can improve their health by working on a DIY or gardening project every week

By Jenny Hope  Daily Mail  PUBLISHED: 22:54, 13 August 2012

Stepping up exercise levels in your 50s is likely to cut your chances of suffering a heart attack in later life.

Only two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity a week appears to suppress inflammation in the body which is believed to contribute to heart disease, a long-term study has found.

It means that, even for the middle aged who have been inspired by the exploits of athletes during the Olympics, it is never too late to exercise and change their future health for the better. 

Never too old: The findings mean that all age groups benefit from doing some form of exercise on a weekly basis and reduce their risk of a heart attack

And it is not necessarily only vigorous training or sports that offer these protective benefits, the researchers said.

The exercise simply has to raise the heart rate – and includes leisure activities such as gardening, DIY and brisk walking.

 The link between exercise and improved heart health is already well-known. But the latest research, by British Heart Foundation-funded scientists, is the first major study to confirm that the likely mechanism is its anti-inflammatory effects, they said.

Middle-aged participants who got off the sofa and became active were found to have lower ‘inflammatory markers’ in their blood at the end of the ten-year study.

Inflammation levels remained lower in those approaching and living in retirement who were physically active compared with those who did relatively little, it found.

Lead study author Dr Mark Hamer, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College in London, said: ‘Our study reveals for the first time the long-term effects of leading an active lifestyle on inflammation and heart disease.’ He added: ‘Previous studies looking at how exercise protects the heart have only been carried out for short periods of time.’

Heart and circulatory disease causes one in three of all deaths in the UK – about 191,000 deaths each year – at a cost of £30billion to the economy.

There are nearly 2.7million people suffering from coronary heart disease in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation.

The study of more than 4,000 civil servants – whose average age was 49 years when the research began – compared their exercise  routines and levels of inflammation as a means to gauge heart health.

‘Inflammatory markers are important because we have shown they are a key mechanism explaining the link between physical activity and the lower risk of heart disease,’ Dr Hamer explained.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2187935/Heart-disease-Its-late-exercise-Major-new-British-study-proves-starting-gardening-walking-DIY-fifties-cut-risk-heart-disease.html#ixzz23dd1mDTF