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Older Men who Use Statins Less Likely to Exercise, Study

Jun 10, 2014 09:25 AM EDT

A new study finds that older men who take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins are less likely to exercise.

The research is important because it shows that a large portion of the adult population isn't getting enough physical activity.

Older adults need to get 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate exercise every week along with muscle training activities on two days.

Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Around 30 million in the U.S use the drug and it has made over $19 billion in domestic sales.

"Physical activity in older adults helps to maintain a proper weight, prevent cardiovascular disease and helps to maintain physical strength and function," said David Lee, an assistant professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, who is also the lead author of the study.

The study didn't explain why statin-use was linked to lower physical activity levels. One possible reason could be that the drugs cause muscle pain in some adults. The medication also disrupts the mitochondrial function in cells, which could lead to fatigue.

The study was based on data from 3,071 men living in communities. Researchers found that men on statin were getting 40 minutes less physical activity per week than men who weren't on the drugs.

Researchers also found that men who have just started taking the medication were the least likely to meet exercise recommendations.

"For an older population that's already pretty sedentary, that's a significant amount less exercise," Lee said in a news release. "Even moderate amounts of exercise can make a big difference."

Researchers said that the study was conducted on male population and so they aren't sure about exercise levels of women on statins.

The study was funded by National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon and is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

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