The researchers particularly taking into consideration the people who were of the habit of being 'couch potatoes' explained that the exercise need not be of any strenuous nature but rather even simple measures like walking could make the difference. Dr Dietrich Rothenbacher, an epidemiologist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany said, "You don't have to go to the gym. Just get off the couch. It is never too late to start exercising."
The researchers based their study on the effect of physical activity on patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and with a group of healthy volunteers who were of the same age and sex. The found that among those people who exercised a lot throughout their life had a reduced risk of the illness that is one of the biggest killers in the industrial countries.
Dr Rothenbacher said, "But we also found that people who changed their physical activity patterns in late adult life also reduced their risk for coronary heart disease."
The scientist's had also re-evaluated the data that they had previously collected on patients and volunteers of the age group 40 to 68 who had already been questioned on their habits and exercise patterns.
It was explained that smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, are all risk factors for heart disease, which were more common in the patients with the illness than in the healthy volunteers. The researchers explained that people who had been active throughout their lives had about a 60% reduced risk of being diagnosed with coronary heart disease. And that the couch potatoes who had changed their ways and had started exercising even after the age of 40 were about 55% less likely to be diagnosed with the illness than people who had always been and are still inactive.
Rothenbacher, in the study published in the journal Heart, said, "Our results suggest that a more active physical activity pattern is clearly associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, and that changing from a sedentary to a more physically active lifestyle even in later adulthood may strongly decrease CHD risk."