People over 70 are being urged to engage in at least 20 minutes exercise a day to protect against severe heart disease.
A study, published in the journal Heart, tracked more than 3,000 Italian adults over the age of 65 for more than 20 years.
Researchers tracked heart disease – including heart failure, stroke and coronary heart disease – among the participants and also monitored their physical activity levels.
Overall, physical activity was associated with lower rates of cardiovascular diseases.
But after further analysis, the authors found that at least 20 minutes of exercise every day among people aged 70 to 75 seemed to provide the greatest benefits.
The benefits were more apparent among those in their early 70s compared to those in their late 70s and beyond.
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The Italian research team said this “suggests greater cardiovascular benefits might be achieved by improving physical activity earlier in late life”.
In a linked editorial, titled “Physical activity in older people: better late than never, but better early than late”, academics said that the study showed that “movement is medicine” in late life.
They added: “Even a small amount of physical activity may confer beneficial effects in older people, but if undertaken early rather than late.”