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Senior Health and Exercise

Dec 15, 2017 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

It has been “common knowledge” for some time now that exercise is great for the heart. More exercise increases blood flow, which strengthens the vessels pumping blood to and from the heart, while also reducing the level of toxins in the body.

That’s exactly what some researchers hypothesized in regards to a certain cardiac issue called CAC: more exercise should lead to a decreased risk of the condition.

However, their findings proved them otherwise. Read on to learn more about CAC and how exercise may affect it:

What is CAC?

Coronary artery calcification, or CAC, is classified as the build-up of plaque in the main vessels bringing blood to the heart. It’s a common sign of early artery disease.

CAC typically affects seniors, though certain risk factors increase the likelihood of it, such as:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Being overweight/obese

Finding the 'Best' Amount of Exercise for Seniors

The study observed 3,175 participants, all aged 18 to 30. They were give eight examinations and about three questionnaires in regards to their exercise levels over the course of about 26 years, from 1985 to 2011.

The participants were split into three groups based on their average exercise levels: low exercise, with less than 150 minutes of exercise per week; moderate, exercising about 150 minutes or more per week; and high, exercising more than 450 minutes per week.

In Some Cases Less Exercise Turned Out To Be Better!

While you would think that those with the highest level of exercise were the safest from CAC, this is actually the opposite of true. These individuals were at a higher risk of developing the condition in their middle-aged years than the low exercise group by about 27%. What was expected to be a negative correlation between exercise and CAC risk was actually a direct relationship.

The researchers are guessing that the higher levels of stress from exercising so much led to increased hardening or artery plaque, thus increasing the likelihood of CAC.

What’s even more interesting is that white men were most at risk compared to all women or black men, at an 86% increased risk!

However, the researchers do not encourage anyone to stop exercising, as more research needs to be conducted on this relationship between increased exercise and CAC. They’re also going to look at other cardiac conditions’ risks and their relation to exercise, such as that for heart attack. Biological factors and difference of risk amongst different races are also to be examined further.

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