Everyday physical activity is a powerful medicine for older adults with heart disease

A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation, champions everyday physical activity for older adults with heart disease.

Simply by improving their everyday physical activity, older adults with heart disease can experience benefits to their heart health, as well as greater independence and quality of life, even in the oldest adults.

The evidence to support physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle is overwhelming. It can reduce heart disease symptoms in patients with heart failure, heart attacks and strokes, in addition to improving the age-related decline in strength and balance, and reducing frailty (unintentional weight loss, exhaustion, slowness while walking, and low levels of physical activity).

“Many healthcare providers are focused only on the medical management of diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks, valvular heart disease and strokes, without directly focusing on helping the patients maximise their physical function,” said Daniel Forman, M.D., the geriatric cardiologist who chaired the panel that drafted the new statement.

“Yet, after a heart attack or other cardiac event, most patients also want to regain physical capacity and confidence to maintain their independence and quality of life, such as the ability to lift a grocery bag and carry it to their car,” Forman said.

The new statement urges healthcare professionals to assess functional status at every regular physical exam, and details an array of methods they can use. And, as well as emphasising cardiac rehabilitation (of which physical activity is a vital part) when it’s appropriate, the statement calls for healthcare professionals to provide individualised guidance for improving daily physical activity. A viewpoint that’s echoed by the Exercise is Medicine initiative and one we fully support. Physical activity has to be part of the conversation.

Every move you make matters and it’s not only about walking or cycling – climbing the stairs, making the bed, putting out the washing, gardening, and washing the windows all count. Structured exercise is just one of many different types of physical activity that have independent health benefits. And, let’s face it, exercise doesn’t appeal to everyone – in fact, it can be really daunting for many of us. Not only could encouraging everyday activities better achieve healthful physical activity behaviour in older adults, it is likely to be more meaningful, motivating and sustainable.

KiActiv® establishes the use of everyday ‘free living’ physical activity for the prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases. Those who use KiActiv® learn how to make their every move valuable and are empowered to becoming their own expert in what’s right for them. This knowledge and understanding gives them control over their health and wellbeing forever. Our personalised behavioural medicine is natural, safe and accessible to everyone.