Posted on Sep 23, 2022, 7 p.m.
Results of a study recently published in JAMA Network Open suggest that older adults who got the recommended amount of physical activity each week via a variety of leisure activities experienced a reduced risk of death over a decade highlighting the importance of finding ways to stay active that you enjoy which are sustainable throughout your life.
It is well documented that regular physical activity is vital for health, it helps you to maintain a healthy weight while also helping you to avoid a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Current guidelines recommend that adults get a minimum of 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week or at least half of that amount in vigorous-intensity physical activity.
In this study, 272,000 participants with an average age of 70 were recruited to examine if older adults would benefit from a variety of leisure time physical activities as previous research has demonstrated that younger people benefit from. This study adjusted for health conditions, habits like alcohol and tobacco use, diet, and socioeconomic status among other factors. During the 12-year study period, the researchers examined the risk of death, comparing the reduction in that risk provided by different levels and types of physical activity.
Participation was recorded for 7 different recreation activities: jogging/running, swimming, golf, walking, cycling, racquet sports, and aerobic exercise. The most common activity was walking, followed by aerobic exercise, cycling, golf, swimming, running, and racquet sports.
Those who participated in any combination of these activities but did not meet the current guidelines for physical activity were found to have a 5% lower risk of death than those who were sedentary during this study. Those with at least the minimum of recommended activity had a 13% lower risk of death compared with those who were inactive.
Although racquet sports and running were associated with the greatest risk reductions, all activities were found to have provided benefits. The risk of death continued to decrease with additional activity beyond recommended levels, however, this diminished as activities increased to high and very high levels.
Racquet sports were associated with the greatest reduction in risk of death from heart disease, and running was associated with the greatest reduction in risk of death from cancer. Those who were participating in the recommended amount of regular exercise regardless of what activity they enjoyed benefited from a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.
“We found that all types of recreational activities that get people moving are associated with greater longevity,” Watts says. “So the most important thing an inactive older adult can do to improve their health is find an activity that they enjoy and can stick with.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine.
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