Even low activity level reduces death risk

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Even low activity level reduces death risk
Even low activity level reduces death risk

A brisk, 15-minute walk every day could reduce your residents' risk of death by 22%, according to research presented June 14 at the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation's EuroPRevent 2016 meeting in Sophia Antipolis, France.

The target may be a reasonable one for older adults, said David Hupin, M.D., a physician in the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology at University Hospital of Saint-Etienne in Saint-Etienne, France.

“Age is not an excuse to do no exercise,” he said. “It is well-established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment, but less than half of older adults achieve the recommended minimum of 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise each week.”

To learn whether lower levels of exercise could be beneficial or reduce mortality in older adults, Hupin and colleagues studied two groups of people, totaling more than 123,000, who were aged at least 60 or 65 years and studied for 10 to 12 years, depending on the group. The researchers found that, compared with those who were inactive, older adults with weekly physical activity levels defined as low, medium and high had a 22%, 28% and 35% lower risk of death, respectively.

“These two studies show that the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit,” Hupin (pictured) said. “The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit.”

That low level of activity — half of the recommended amount — was associated with a 22% reduced risk of death in older adults compared with those who were inactive. “This level of activity equates to a 15-minute brisk walk each day,” Hupin said.

Older adults should increase their physical activity gradually rather than dramatically all at once, he said. “Small increases in physical activity may enable some older adults to incorporate more moderate activity and get closer to the recommended 150 minutes per week,” he added.

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