DIY and gardening can cut heart attack, stroke risk by 30 percent and prolong life in 60+ age group

A spot of DIY or gardening can cut the risk of a heart attack/stroke and prolong life by as much as 30 per cent among the 60+ age group, indicates research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

These routine activities are as good as exercise, which is ideal for older people who don't often do that much formal exercise, say the researchers.

They base their findings on almost 4000 sixty year olds in Stockholm, Sweden, whose cardiovascular health was tracked for around 12.5 years.

At the start of the study, participants took part in a health check, which included information on lifestyle, such as diet, smoking, and alcohol intake, and how physically active they were.

They were asked how often they had included a range of daily life activities, such as gardening, DIY, car maintenance and blackberry picking over the previous 12 months, as well as whether they had taken any formal exercise.

Their was assessed by means of lab tests and physical examinations, to check on , blood sugars, and blood clotting factor, high levels of which are linked to a raised heart attack and .

At the start of the study, those who had a generally active daily life had a much lower risk profile for cardiovascular problems, irrespective of how much formal exercise they took, than those with low levels of daily activity.

This profile included smaller waists, lower levels of potentially harmful blood fats, and lower gluose, insulin, and clotting factor levels in men.

The same was true of those who did a lot of formal exercise, but who weren't routinely physically active very often. Those who exercised regularly and were also often physically active had the lowest risk profile of all.

During the 12.5 year monitoring period, 476 of the participants had their first heart attack and 383 died from various causes.

The highest level of daily physical activity was associated with a 27% lower risk of a or stroke and a 30% reduced risk of death from all causes, compared with the lowest level, irrespective of how much regular formal exercise was taken in addition.

"Our findings are particularly important for older adults, because individuals in this age group tend, compared to other age groups, to spend a relatively greater proportion of their active day performing [routine activities] as they often find it difficult to achieve recommended intensity levels," say the authors.

They suggest that the biological explanations for their findings might lie in energy expenditure: prolonged sitting drives down metabolic rate to the bare minimum, while standing up and physical activity increase it.

Muscular contractions may also provide some clues. Sitting down doesn't require any muscle effort, which can disrupt the skeletal muscle's normal hormone production, with potential adverse effects on other body organs and tissues.

More information: The importance of non-exercise physical activity for cardiovascular health and longevity, Online First, DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-092038

Related Stories

Study links moderate activity to lower breast cancer risk

date Oct 04, 2013

A large new American Cancer Society study adds to increasing evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Researchers say moderate recreational activity was associated with a ...

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 4 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 6 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.