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Another study released this month shows the powers of exercise for the elderly. Just 1/2 an hour of physical activity on six days a week is likely to add 5 years to the life of elderly men, according to a new study.
The research, published in the British Journal of Sports medicine, found that elderly men who did three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity spread over the week have a 40% lower risk of fatality than those who did not exercise. The study also found that increasing physical activity was nearly s beneficial as stopping smoking.
The team, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences based their study on thousands of men who were born between 1923 and 1932 who were then given health checks in the 1970s when they were all in their forties. The health checks cover height, weight, blood pressure, lifestyle habits like smoking and the amount of exercise that they did. In 2000 those still alive were invited back for another round of health checks, and of these, nearly 6,000 were monitored for the next 12 years – until they reached their late seventies and eighties.
Light vs heavier exercise
Those who did little exercise over the course of the week saw little change in mortality rates – they did less than 1 hour of light physical activity. However, even just an hour of vigorous exercise done over the week showed a reduction in the risk of dying from 23% to 37%.
The more time the subjects did strenuous exercise (getting properly out of breath) the lower the risk of death seemed to be, from 36% to 49% for those doing 6 hours a week. Even the study was “observational”in its basis – only those healthier subjects that were still alive in the first place were studied – the researchers say that the differences in mortality rates for those who were active vs those who did little activity was very striking.
This also correlates with the latest research into exercise, showing that short but vigorous activity (or high intensity interval training) has far greater benefits over longer, endurance based exercise.
So if you have a father, mother, friend or relative who is in their 60s or over, encourage them to get moving and to start some interval training. It’s never too late! The ultimate solution might be some 50+ fitness with a DDW personal trainer.