HEALTH campaigners on Wearside today welcomed a report which reveals that people who increase exercise in their 50s are likely to cut the risk of heart attacks in later life.
A long-term study funded by the British Heart Foundation has found that only two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity a week appears to suppress inflammation in the body which is believed to contribute to heart disease.
It means that, even for the middle-aged who have been inspired by the exploits of athletes during the Olympics, it is never too late to exercise and change their future health for the better.
Michael Roper, from the Sunderland branch of the national charity, said: “The report supports pretty much what we’ve been saying for quite some time.
“Going to GPs for blood pressure checks, cutting down on fatty foods and doing regular exercise.”
However, it is not only vigorous training or sports that offer these protective benefits, the researchers at the University College London found.
The exercise simply has to raise the heart rate – and includes leisure activities such as gardening, DIY and brisk walking.
“Even a little exercise can make a huge difference,” said Mr Roper. “There are walking clubs and other activities in the area.
“When we say exercise, it doesn’t have to be a 10K run.
“It can mean getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking home or taking a stroll down the shops instead of taking the car.
“Every little bit helps and over the course of a week it can add up.”
The level of exertion should be enough to raise the heart rate to 120 beats a minute or higher, which includes a brisk walk and swimming.
But taking a stroll or even gardening is also regarded as healthy activity.
Award-winning fitness trainer Katie Bulmer-Cooke, from Ashbrooke, Sunderland, said: “The Olympics have inspired so many of us to start to start exercising and it’s never too late.
“No matter how old you are, there is always something you can do to improve your fitness and long-term health.
“Everyday activities such as gardening, walking the dog and even housework are a great place at start.
“Just doing one thing every day that gets you slightly out of breath and raises your heart rate will improve your fitness levels and reduce your risk of developing heart problems.”