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Initiating an Exercise Regimen After 40 Can Cut Heart Risk

Exercise across a lifetime confers greatest benefits

THURSDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Sedentary individuals who begin an exercise regimen after age 40 can reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease, according to the results of a case-control study published online July 19 in the journal Heart.

Dietrich Rothenbacher, M.D., of the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues interviewed 312 coronary heart disease patients aged 40 to 68 and a control group of 479 age- and sex-matched volunteers about their level of physical activity in early adulthood (ages 20 to 39) and later adulthood (after age 40).

Individuals who were inactive throughout their early and later adulthood had the highest risk of heart disease, while those who were active in early adulthood and remained so after age 40 had a lower risk of coronary heart disease (odds ratio, 0.38) than their sedentary counterparts. However inactive adults who became physically active in later adulthood were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease (OR, 0.45) than their consistently sedentary counterparts, the report indicates.

"Encouraging participation in physical activity should start early," writes S. Goya Wannamethee, M.D., of the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, U.K., in an editorial accompanying the new study. "But for those who have been inactive for most of their adulthood, it is never too late to start."

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