The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that a generally active daily life that includes do-it-yourself activities and projects like gardening and car maintenance can cut the risks of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 30 percent and prolong life among adults 60 and over. These routine activities may be as beneficial as exercising for older adults because they decrease total sedentary time, the researchers say.
Scientists in Stockholm, Sweden, tracked more than 4,000 men and women for an average of 12.5 years, starting at age 60. At the start of the study, regardless of exercise habits, high levels of other physical activity were associated with smaller waists and lower levels of potentially harmful blood fats in both sexes, and lower levels of glucose, insulin and clotting factor levels in men.
Those with higher levels of other physical activity were also significantly less likely to experience metabolic syndrome, a first cardiovascular disease event, and early mortality from any cause. The same was true for individuals that undertook high levels of formal exercise, even if it wasn’t routine. Participants that both exercised regularly and were often physically active in their daily life had the lowest risk profile of all.