New French research has found that regular exercise can benefit patients with cardiovascular disease no matter what their age.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté and the Clinique Les Rosiers, Dijon, France, the new study looked at 733 patients at the Clinique Les Rosiers who completed a 25-session exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program.
The participants were divided into three subgroups -- less than 65 years old, between 65 and 80 years old, and 80 years or older -- in order to compare the effects of exercise on young, old, and very old patients.
The researchers measured the participants' physical variables, such as estimated peak VO2 -- which is the maximum amount of oxygen the body is capable of utilizing in one minute, and one of the best indicators of future health -- and psychological variables, such as scores of anxiety and depression, before and after the cardiac rehabilitation program.
The findings, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, showed that after completing the exercise-based program all patients experienced physical and psychological improvements.
In addition, the team also found that the patients who benefited most from exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation were those who started out with the greatest physical impairment, irrespective of age.
"Aging is associated with several factors such as increased inflammation or oxidative stress that predispose people to cardiovascular diseases. As a result, elderly patients are usually less fit than their younger counterparts, and deconditioning is accelerated once cardiovascular disease is established," explained lead investigator Gaëlle Deley, Ph.D.
"We found a few weeks of exercise training not only significantly improved exercise capacity, but also decreased anxiety and depression," commented Dr. Deley.
"Another interesting result was that patients younger than 65 who were very anxious before rehabilitation benefited the most from exercise training. A similar result was found for depressed patients older than 65. 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."