Posted on Sep 17, 2012, 6 a.m.
Middle-aged adults who regularly engage in leisure-time physical activity for more than a decade may enhance their heart health.
The biological process of inflammation is suspected to be an underlying mechanism of cardiovascular disease. A number of previous studies suggest that physical activity can help to reduce the inflammatory process. Mark Hamer, from University College (United Kingdom), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 4289 men and women, mean age 49.2 years, enrolled in the Whitehall II cohort study. At the baseline assessment in 1991-1993, the team analyzed two key inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Researchers again assessed physical activity and inflammatory markers in 1997-99 and about 11 years later. Subjects reported the duration and frequency of their leisure-time physical activities such as brisk walking, vigorous gardening, cycling, sports, housework and home maintenance. The team found that leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health, and that middle-aged adults who regularly engage in leisure-time physical activity for more than a decade may reduce inflammation and thereby enhance their heart health. Vigorous exercise and sports may play a less important role among middle-age and older adults. The study authors conclude that: “Regular physical activity is associated with lower markers of inflammation over 10 years of follow-up and thus may be important in preventing the pro-inflammatory state seen with ageing.”
Mark Hamer, Severine Sabia, G. David Batty, Martin J. Shipley, Adam G. Tabak, Archana Singh-Manoux, Mika Kivimaki. “Physical Activity and Inflammatory Markers Over 10 Years: Follow-Up in Men and Women from the Whitehall II Cohort Study.” Circulation, August 13, 2012.