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Heart disease risk is lower in frail people who exercise more, study suggests


Doing exercise reduces the risk of older people developing frailty and can lead to a longer life, research from Spain has suggested.

There have been calls for individualised care to be rolled out for older people with diabetes, who are more at risk of becoming frail. And previously, the benefits of physical activity have been shown to reduce falls and improve walking, balance and muscle strength.

Exercise has also shown to be able to improve health for people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions. But until now, research has not explored if exercise has the potential to help older frail people live longer.

Researchers from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain followed 3,896 study participants people aged 60 and older, with information obtained by interviews and physical examinations.

They used a scale called FRAIL to measure attributes including tiredness, ability to maintain an effort, walking over several hundred yards, as well as illness and weight loss.

Participants were followed up after 14 years and during that period, 1,801 of them had died, representing 46%, with 672 dying due to cardiovascular disease.

Those who were classed as pre-frail and frail people had a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared with the healthy participants, with any one of the FRAIL scale components associated with a greater risk of mortality.

However, the findings also revealed that people who were classed as pre-frail and frail but also exercised, had a lower risk of death.

Additionally, the numbers of people who died from cardiovascular disease but were physically active and also frail, were similar to inactive people in the pre-frail category.

Frailty is part of the ageing process where multiple body systems gradually lose their in-built reserves and people become weak.

The research was published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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