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More exercise in your 50s 'cuts heart disease risk'

"Exercise in midlife protects heart," says BBC News, while the Daily Mail tells us that "gardening, walking and DIY in your fifties can cut risk of heart disease".

The news is based on a large study looking at the health of middle-aged people. Researchers found that those who met physical activity recommendations of at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week had lower levels of inflammation in their body compared with people who did not get enough exercise.

Reducing levels of inflammation is important as persistent inflammation, even at relatively modest levels, is thought to contribute to the adverse effects of ageing. For example, it is thought to contribute to loss of muscle power and strength, cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels) and depression.

Interestingly, the results were independent of body fat. This suggests that exercise was still of significant benefit for people with no, or little, previous history of exercise.

The study had some limitations, including the fact that it measured markers of inflammation rather than CVD rates themselves. Nevertheless, this was a well conducted study that reinforces the health benefits of even moderate exercise.

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