Moderate physical exercise can significantly reduce risk factors for disorders such as diabetes and heart disease in older adults , say researchers according to a new study.
104 people without previous cardiovascular disease, between ages 55 and 75 were studied for six months. Half the group had supervised exercise sessions including weight lifting, the treadmill, and a bicycle or step aerobics. The other half only received a booklet encouraging exercise.
Results showed people in the group who exercised increased muscle mass and decreased abdominal fat (a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and stroke), by 20 percent but there was no such improvement in the non-exercising group.
At the start of the study, 43 of all participants had metabolic syndrome (three or more risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels). At the end of the study, nine in the exercise group had their risk factors resolved and there were no new cases of metabolic syndrome. Four new cases of metabolic syndrome appeared among the non-exercisers.
Reduction in fat and increase in muscle had a greater impact on reducing disease risk factors than improvements in fitness. Thus researchers say older people can benefit greatly from exercise, especially to reduce their risk for developing metabolic syndrome.