Increased Exercise Does Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease for People Over 75

Physical activity and the College Alumni Health Study

From 2001 through 2003, Stanford University researchers conducted two analyses of survey responses from participants of the College Alumni Health Study to examine the influence of physical activity and other lifestyle factors on the development of cardiovascular disease and other illnesses in elderly men and women.

Key Findings

The researchers reported the following key findings to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and published them in Circulation and three other peer-reviewed journals:

  • The risk of cardiovascular disease fell as respondents reported greater levels of exertion during physical activity.
  • The researchers suggest it may be more appropriate to promote activity recommendations that rely on a relative intensity concept (e.g., walking at 75 percent of maximum heart rate) rather than the current absolute formulations (brisk walking), which require greater effort among less fit than better fit individuals.
  • Despite plausible biological mechanisms, neither physical activity nor body mass index (BMI) predicted death from pancreatic cancer.
  • Tea intake, likely consumed as black tea, was not strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Funding

RWJF provided $148,420 to support the project from January 2001 to September 2003.

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