SOURCE: The Telegraph
It is enough to put a spring in the step. Older adults need only walk briskly for 15 minutes a day to cut their risk of dying early, a new study has shown.
Although the NHS currently recommends two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week for pensioners, the latest research suggests doing far less can still bring substantial health benefits.
Just 15 minutes of exercise a day was found to lower the risk of death by 22 per cent over the 12 year study period. Even adults who met recommended guidelines only lowered their change of dying early by 35 per cent.
Other activities which count towards the 15 minute a week goal include weeding the garden, tennis or cycling.
Many people give up on exercisingbecause they feel they will fail to meet guideline targets, but the new study shows even a little goes a long way.
“Age is not an excuse to do no exercise,” said Dr David Hupin, physician in the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France.
“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.
“Fifteen minutes a day could be a reasonable target for older adults. 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.”
The study looked at more than 123,000 people for up to 12 years to see what effect their lifestyle and level of exercising, had on mortality.
Compared to those who were inactive, older adults with low, medium and high activity levels had a 22 per cent, 28 per cent and 35 per cent lower risk of death, respectively.
The NHS defines moderate exercise as working hard enough to raise the heart rate and breaking into a sweat. Moderate exercisers will be able to talk but not sing the words to a song.
“The more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit,” added Dr Hupin. “The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit.
“We found that the low level of activity, which is half the recommended amount, was associated with a 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.”
Experts at Public Health England said even a little exercise was better than nothing.
Justin Varney, National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England, said: “It’s never too late to start exercising, especially as physical activity helps prevent many chronic conditions including Type 2 diabetes and dementia, and reducing the risk of early death.
“The maximum health benefits are achieved from 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. However, every little counts and just 10 minutes of physical activity will provide health benefits.”
As well as aerobic exercise, older people are advised to take part in activities which improve muscle strength, balance and coordination on two days a week and reduce extended sitting time.