Monday, October 5, 2015

Exercise Reduces Mortality in Older Adults

Older couple exercising

We all know that exercise is good for us, right?   Regular exercise increases strength, helps control body weight, improves self-image, increases energy, regulates sleep patterns and protects bone density.  

But, did you know that exercise – even just a little – reduces your risk for death as you age? 

Current exercise recommendations are for people over 60 years old to engage in moderate to vigorous exercise for 150 minutes each week.  According to survey data, more than 60% of adults in this age group find the recommendation too demanding.  Researchers wanted to know if a lesser exercise target could also produce protective effects. 

Dr. David Hupin and colleagues turned to published data to find the answer.  The authors used PubMed and Embase databases, with only prospective cohort studies included.  Results of nine cohort studies were included, taking into account 122,417 participants and 18,122 reported deaths. 
Findings were expressed in “metabolic equivalent of task” – or MET – units.  This unit expresses the amount of calories expended per minute of physical activity.  

After pooling data from these studies, the researchers found an inverse relationship between the number of MET minutes performed per week and risk of death.  In comparison to a completely sedentary lifestyle, participants getting 1 to 499 MET minutes of exercise weekly cut their risk of death by 22%.  Adults taking in 500 to 999 MET minutes cut their risk by 28% -- and those getting 1000 MET minutes (or more) cut their risk by 35%.  Basically, these findings demonstrate that “some is good, but more is better” when it comes to exercise!

What does this all mean?

Dr. Hupin and colleagues conclude that 250 MET minutes (which is about 75 minutes) per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity was a more reasonable goal for adults age 60 or over.  After all, a clear reduction in mortality risk was associated with this lower target for physical activity.  The researchers also noted – this would be just 15 minutes daily, 5 days a week.  

Talk about a reason to get moving!

Harrison, L.  Even a Little Exercise May Reduce Mortality in Elders.  2015. Medscape Medical News.  Retrieved from:

Written by:
Sara Police, PhD


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