Research found that elderly patients and adults with the greatest physical impairments benefited the most from cardiac rehabilitation.

Grab a pair of dumbbells and lace up your running shoes. Turns out that regular exercise is beneficial for your heart, regardless of age. A new study compared the effects of an exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation in patients young, old, and elderly. While the claim may not seem surprising, a report published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that less healthy, elderly patients (above the age of 80) benefited the most from consistent exercise and physical rehabilitation.

733 patients were divided into three subgroups for testing: adults less than 65 years old, adults between the age of 65 and 80 years old, and adults 80 years or older. Patients completed a 25-session cardiac rehabilitation program and were assessed for both physical and psychological variables, included anxiety and depression.

woman exercising
Credit: Getty: The Good Brigade

"We found a few weeks of exercise training not only significantly improved exercise capacity, but also decreased anxiety and depression. Patients with the greatest physical impairments at baseline benefited the most from exercise," lead investigator Dr. Gaëlle Deley told ScienceDaily.

Researchers found that one of the reasons why elderly adults are less likely to enter a cardiac rehabilitation program is because there are less referrals and encouragement to attend. Their hope is that the study will inspire doctors to recruit older adults with coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular health concerns for a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Even patients younger than 65 benefited from regular exercising training. Patients showed reduced levels of anxiety and depression after the completion of the 25-session study. "These improvements will surely have a great positive impact on patients' independence and quality of life and might help both clinicians and patients to realize how beneficial exercise rehabilitation can be," Dr. Deley added.


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