We know that life is short and we want to enjoy it for as long as we can. However, aging has been associated with reduced wellbeing and health as well as increasing risk of death. There are ways to combat this inevitable destiny – a new research led by scientists from UCL showed that even light exercise in older men help lowering the risk of death.
Of course, older people may not be interested in doing sports. However, low intensity exercising could be simply walking up the stairs, doing some gardening or cleaning the house. Moderate exercising would be walking the dog or mowing the lawn. However, current guidelines for older people do not include light exercising – it is recommended that older people would exercise for 150 minutes a week in intense bouts lasting at least 10 minutes. Now scientists are saying that even 30 minutes of additional low intensity physical activity every day can reduce the risk of death by 17 %.
Now it is important to note that more intense exercising brings more benefits and increased longevity. But if it is not possible anymore, people still should move as much as they can, even if the exercising turns out to be very light. Furthermore, it is the total amount of time spent exercising that is important rather than longer bouts. Dr Barbara Jefferis, one of the authors of the paper, said: “The results suggest that all activities, however modest, are beneficial. Hence older men who can’t manage the moderate intensity activities that get the heart pumping harder shouldn’t be put off being active; they can still gain important benefits from light activity”. This study was incredibly meticulous.
7735 men, aged between 40 and 59, were invited to participate in the study back in 1978-80. 3137 of these men survived till their health was assessed in 2010-12. They were asked to wear physical activity monitors until their death or June 2016. That is how scientists managed to eliminate irrelevant data and focus on light exercise. And it did prove to be helpful to prolong life. Physical activity monitors, a simple piece of wearable electronics, are actually key in this research. People struggle to reveal their light intensity exercise because they do not consider it to be exercise. But these simple devices detect and record even slight movement.
Life is beautiful and we have to hang on as long as we can. Good news is that light intensity exercise can be a lot of fun – walking a dog or swimming is something we consider recreational activity rather than working out.