Seniors of all ages with cardiovascular disease benefit from regular exercise in both mind and body, according to a French study.

To see how age affects outcomes in cardiac rehabilitation, investigators grouped 733 participants by age. Groups included people 65 and younger, age 65 to 80, and age 80 and older.

After a 25-session program, all participants experienced significant gains in physical health and reduced anxiety and depression. Individuals with the greatest physical impairment benefited the most, wrote lead investigator Gaëlle Deley, Ph.D., University of Burgundy Franche-Comté. Notably, people over age 65 with depression showed some of the biggest improvements, she reported.

“These improvements will surely have a great positive impact on patients’ independence and quality of life and might help both clinicians and patients to realize how beneficial exercise rehabilitation can be,” Deley said.

The study is unique in its focus on psychosocial benefits of cardiac rehabilitation, noted the authors of an accompanying editorial. “[This is] an understudied outcome that is often highly valued by patients,” said James A. Stone, MD, Ph.D., University of Calgary.

The results were published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.