The benefits were evident and comparable in those who had started training before the age of 30 or after the age of 40. As a result, the investigators said.
The study, which was performed in France, was reported at the EuroPRevent congress 2014 in Amsterdam by David Matelot, from the Inserm 1099 unit in Rennes, France.
The study was performed in 40 healthy men (without cardiovascular risk factors) aged between 55 and 70 years who were divided for assessment according to the level of exercise they took and the ages at which they began. 10 of the men had never exercised for more than 2 hours a week throughout their lives, and 30 had exercised for at least 7 hours a week for over five years, either beginning their programmes before the age of 30 or after the age of 40.
The regular exercise they took was either running or cycling.
"Despite biological changes with age, the heart still seems - even at the age of 40 - amenable to modification by endurance training. Starting at the age of 40 does not seem to impair the cardiac benefits," Matelot said.
"However, endurance training is also beneficial for bone density, for muscle mass, for oxidative stress. And these benefits are known to be greater if training was started early in life," he added.