A new study has found that sedentary older adults who add less than an hour of moderate physical activity per week can improve overall physical functioning.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 1600 men and women ages 70-89 over an average of 2.6 years. All had problems moving normally at the beginning of the study and most reported fewer than 20 minutes of physical activity a week.
Over 24 months, researchers found that participants who engaged in at least 48 minutes of physical activity a week (or around 7 minutes a day) saw the greatest benefit. 48 minutes or more of physical activity a week was also associated with preventing major loss of mobility.
Researchers say the study is encouraging and suggests that even small increases in physical activity in older adults can prevent muscle loss, lower disability risks and help sustain independence into old age.
Potential acknowledged limitations of the study are that some participants monitored activity using a wearable “device” while some self-reported
The work is part of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study and was published last month in the online journal Public Library of Science Journal.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.