The benefits of physical activity may outweigh the impact of overweight and obesity on cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and elderly people, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The observational study was conducted in more than 5,000 people aged 55 years and older who were followed-up for 15 years.
During the 15-year follow-up, 16% of participants had a cardiovascular event.
When analysed alone, physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of BMI category. There was no association between BMI alone and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers analysed the joint effect of physical activity and BMI.
Compared to normal weight people with high physical activity levels (the ideal), overweight or obese individuals with high levels of physical activity were not at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
But overweight or obese people with low levels of physical activity had 1.33 and 1.35 times higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, respectively.
“Our results show that physical activity plays a crucial role in the health of middle age to elderly people,” said one author.
“Those who are overweight and obese without adequate physical activity are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”
Overweight and obesity exert harmful effects through adipose tissue which accelerates the atherosclerotic process and increases cardiovascular risk.
Physical activity lowers the harmful effects of atherosclerosis by reducing the stabilisation of plaques on blood vessels and reducing the heart’s oxygen demand.
“People who engage in high levels of physical activity are protected from the harmful effects of adipose tissue on cardiovascular disease,” said the author.
“This may be why we found that the beneficial impact of physical activity on cardiovascular disease outweighs the negative impact of BMI.”
“Any physical activity is positive for cardiovascular health and in elderly people of all weights walking, biking and housework are good ways to keep moving,” said the author.
“European guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
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News source: European Society of Cardiology. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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