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The long-term study by British Heart Foundation-funded scientists, found a significant link between exercise and suppression of inflammation in the body, which is thought to contribute to heart disease.
And the good news is there's no need to join the gym to benefit - just two and a half hours of moderate exercise such as gardening, DIY or brisk walking is enough to keep you fit and well into old age.
Researchers compared the exercise routines and levels of inflammation in more than 4,000 middle-aged participants in order to determine how an active lifestyle kept the heart healthy.
They found that those who maintained a healthy level of exercise had lower 'inflammatory markers' at the end of the ten-year study, and inflammation levels stayed lower well into retirement for those participants who kept themselves busy.
Lead author Dr Mark Hamer, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College, London, explained: "Inflammatory markers are important because we have shown they are a key mechanism explaining the link between physical activity and the lower risk of heart disease."
Dr Hamer revealed that many of the participants began exercising more in retirement, helping to keep their hearts healthy.
He added: "Leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health. It is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful ageing."
Are you an active retiree? What would you say is your secret to staying healthy? Leave your comments below...