Regular exercise in old age has as powerful an effect on life expectancy as giving up smoking, researchers say.
The analysis of 5,700 elderly men in Norway showed those doing three hours of exercise a week lived around five years longer than the sedentary.
The authors, writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, called for campaigns to encourage fitness in older people.
In the study – conducted by Oslo University Hospital – researchers found that both light and vigorous exercise extended life expectancy.
Official advice in the USA and UK recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week for all ages.
The study, tracking 68 to 77 year olds, found that doing less than an hour a week of light exercise had no impact.
But overall those putting in the equivalent of six, 30-minute sessions of any intensity, were 40% less likely to have died during the 11-year study.
The report said: “Even when men were 73 years of age on average at start of follow-up, active persons had five years longer expected lifetime than the sedentary.”
It added that physical activity was as “beneficial as smoking cessation” at reducing deaths.
- 69% in Portugal
- 55% in Poland
- 46% in France
- 44% in the UK
- 34% in Croatia
- 26% in Germany
- 14% in the Netherlands
Here in the USA, we are worst of all: surveys show that a full 79% of adults don’t meet the physical activity guidelines of at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging.
Regular physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of early death, help control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some types of cancer and a host of other conditions. It lowers the risk of cognitive decline and hip fractures. That’s pretty compelling!
Other research indicates that people are even less active than these statistics suggest. Scientists with the National Cancer Institute, using actual motion sensors, found that fewer than 5% of adults in the USA get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity in bouts of at least 10 minutes. That’s not a lot!
If you are like me, over 65, this information can extend your life. If you are younger but having older parents, please pass this on to them with the encouragement that you want them around longer! Finally, whatever your age, know that exercise is vital for wellbeing, optimum health and longevity. The younger you get in the habit, the more likely you are to continue exercising into old age.
So, (if you aren’t already) START NOW! Your life depends on it!
#OneSimpleChange – physical activity.