Adding 30 minutes per day of light physical activity may lower mortality risk in women over age 65, according to a study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
“Every movement counts,” says Andrea LaCroix, PhD, senior author of the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
“A lot of what we do on a daily basis is improving our health, such as walking to the mail box, strolling around the neighborhood, folding clothes and straightening up the house. Activities like these account for more than 55 percent of how older individuals get their daily activity,” adds LaCroix, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego.
The 6,000 women in the study, ages 65 to 99, were followed for up to four and a half years. They wore a measuring device called an accelerometer on their hip around-the-clock for 7 days while going about their daily activities. The study found that 30 minutes of light physical activity per day lowered mortality risk by 12% while an additional 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as bicycling at a leisurely pace or brisk walking, exhibited a 39% lower risk, explains a media release from the University of California San Diego.
“Improving levels of physical activity both light and moderate could be almost as effective as rigorous regular exercise at preventing a major chronic disease,” states LaCroix, also chief of the Division of Epidemiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “We don’t have to be running marathons to stay healthy. The paradigm needs to shift when we think about being active.”
The study also found that the benefit of light physical activity extended to all subgroups examined, including different racial/ethnic backgrounds, obese and non-obese women, women with high and low functional ability, and women older and younger than age 80, the release continues.
“Older people expend more energy doing the same kinds of activities they did when younger, so their daily movement has to accommodate for this,” LaCroix points out. “Think of it as taking a pill (activity level) at different doses (amounts of time) depending on the age of the patient. It’s not one size fits all.”
Current national public health guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week for adults. The guidelines recommend persons 65 and older follow the adult guidelines to the degree their abilities and conditions allow.
“Our study shows, for the first time using device-measured light physical activity in older women, that there are health benefits at activity levels below the guideline recommendations. With the increasing baby boomer population in the United States, it is imperative that future health guidelines recommend light physical activity in addition to more strenuous activity,” LaCroix concludes.
“When we get up from the couch and chair and move around, we are making good choices and contributing to our health.”
[Source(s): University of California San Diego, Science Daily]