Even Very Modest Exercise Can Lengthen Life Span for Elderly

While many studies have proven modest exercise to be beneficial to the general population, little research has shown that moderate movement can help reduce risk of death in the elderly - until now.

A study from the European Society of Cardiology found that even short-duration, low-intensity exercise can increase life expectancy – even if individuals can't achieve the recommended 30 minutes of activity per day at least five days a week.

According to Dr. David Hupin, study leader, a minimal exercise target for the elderly could be 15 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

"This could include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or gymnastics," Hupin suggested, "all possibly associated with leisure time physical activity or daily life activities."

Retirement is a critical time

The study also found retirement to be a critical time for assessing one's exercise routine: Starting or restarting some type of physical activity regimen during retirement was associated with a 75 percent lower death risk. Yet individuals who decreased activity in retirement – even by just a little – had a higher death risk.

To avoid common exercise side effects like fatigue or pain, Hupin recommends a "low-dose" approach for people who aren't regular exercisers.

"This message should be relayed by general practitioners, who play a key and essential role in promoting exercise behaviour in the elderly," Hupin said. "Even a little is good, and more may be better."

Source: European Society of Cardiology

Photo by Knox County

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