(HealthDay News) – For older adults, a generally active daily life is associated with cardiovascular benefits and reduced mortality, irrespective of regular exercise habits, according to a study published online Oct. 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Elin Ekblom-Bak, PhD, from the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, and colleagues conducted a health screening study in which every third 60-year-old man and woman in Stockholm County was invited to participate. A total of 4,232 individuals were followed for an average of 12.5 years, during which time cardiovascular events and mortality were assessed. A questionnaire was used to ascertain non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) and exercise habits at baseline, while cardiovascular health was established through physical examinations and laboratory tests.

The researchers found that, regardless of regular exercise, high NEPA was associated with more preferable waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in both sexes, and with lower insulin, glucose, and fibrinogen levels in men, compared to those with low NEPA. For both regularly-exercising and non-exercising individuals, metabolic syndrome occurred significantly less frequently in those with higher NEPA levels. Compared with low NEPA levels, a high NEPA level correlated with a significantly lower risk of a first cardiovascular disease event (hazard ratio, 0.73) and with significantly lower all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 0.70).

“For future health, promoting everyday NEPA might be as important as recommending regular exercise for older adults,” the authors conclude.

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