Exercise is good for you no matter how old you are. Most people think of an intense workout in the gym when they hear exercise however for the elderly, no sweat exercises such as walking the dog and taking a stroll around the garden can lower the chances of death significantly.
The data which backs this claim was recently reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and flies in the face of previously held assumptions about the elderly exercising.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
The previously held assumptions about exercise was that for it to have any kind of beneficial effects, it must be strenuous and long-lasting. Based on this theory, elderly people in Britain are advised to engage in moderate-to-intense workouts for at least 150 minutes every week, broken up into a minimum of ten minute segments each day.
According to Barbara Jefferis from the University College London, those aging guidelines don't mention the benefits of light exercise because there was not enough information available. The new study which was run on over 1200 men over the age of 70 suggests that all physical activity, no matter how little, is beneficial.
Does the Type of Exercise Matter?
Encouraging elderly people to engage in no-sweat exercise also seems more realistic when you consider the limits that they are capable of pushing themselves to. Only 15 percent of Britain's elderly in assisted living facilities were able to keep up with the previous recommendation of ten minutes of strenuous exercise per day. 66% though were able to rack up 150 minutes by the end of the week, including those who live in nursing homes.
The previous research data for elderly came from the British Regional Heart Study which started with 8000 participants back in 1978. In 2012 the 3137 remaining subjects were given physical check-ups and were questioned about their lifestyles.
The new study was run by giving 1181 participants an accelerometer for seven days at a time. The data obtained from those devices allowed the scientists to track the link between light exercise and longevity. The seniors in the study averaged 78 years of age and were monitored for a total of five years in which time a total of 194 of them passed away.The study showed that while rigorous activity will decrease the chances of death by 33%, 30 minutes each day of light exercise will reduce the chances of death by 17%.
The researchers also found that what mattered was the total amount of time seniors spent exercising rather than how that time was spread out. Either way, leading an active life which involves mowing the lawn and walking at a brisk pace reduced the chances of death by 40% when compared to couch potatoes.