15 minutes of exercise may boost life span
Older adults only need to walk briskly for 15 minutes per day to cut their risk of early death, a new study suggests.
While the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) currently recommends two and half hours of moderate exercise a week for pensioners, the latest research suggests doing less can still bring substantial health benefits.
Researchers at University Hospital of Saint-Etienne in France analysed data on more than 123,000 people, aged 60 and older, which was gathered over a period of 10 years.
Compared to those who were inactive, those with low levels of activity were 22 per cent less likely to die during the study period, the investigators found.
In addition, for people with medium and high levels of physical activity, the risk of dying during the study was reduced by 28 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, compared to people who were inactive.
Though the researchers claimed the study wasn't designed with to prove a cause-and-effect relationship with regards to general wellbeing, the results "show that the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit. The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit," explained Dr. David Hupin in a statement, adding that a low level of exercise is equivalent to a 15-minute brisk walk each day.
"Age is not an excuse to do no exercise," he continued. "It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment. But less than half of older adults achieve the recommended minimum of 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise each week."
Dr Hupin added that people shouldn't make drastic changes to the amount of activity in their lives.
Instead, he suggested they progressively increase the amount of activity they're doing.
"Fifteen minutes a day could be a reasonable target for older adults. Small increases in physical activity may enable some older adults to incorporate more moderate activity and get closer to the recommended 150 minutes per week," he concluded.
The research was presented at the EuroPRevent 2016 conference in Sophia Antipolis, France.