There is no benefit of starting exercise late in life to heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular disease), according to new evidence that could inspire changes to current guidelines.

The study shows that introducing a structured physical activity into daily life does not reduce risk of heart disease or help you live longer.

However, later-life introduction of exercise does improves quality of life, for both healthy people and those with ongoing lifestyle-related disease.  

In the trial, 1635 mobile but sedentary people aged 70-plus (30% with histories of cardiovascular disease; 70% with at least one major cardiovascular risk factor) were allocated to either a structured physical-activity intervention or an control group that just got education.

The physical activity intervention involved 2 supervised exercise sessions weekly and home-based activity 3-4 times a week. It included walking (goal, 150 minutes weekly) and strength training.

Control patients attended weekly education sessions for 26 weeks and monthly sessions thereafter.

During an average follow-up of 2.6 years, the researchers report no significant differences between the groups in rates of adverse cardiovascular events, heart attack, stroke or CV-related death.

However, they note the intervention proved to be safe and efficacious for the prevention of major mobility disability.

“The lack of association between physical activity and reduced CVD found here should not detract from efforts to promote a program of sustained walking and weight training in frail older adults,” write the authors.

Last Reviewed: 04/07/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from


Cardiovascular Events in a Physical Activity Intervention Compared With a Successful Aging Intervention.