Finding time to exercise can become quite difficult. But, even 15 minutes a day of cycling, swimming,   or even brisk walking can help older adults live longer. From reviews of past research and studies, medical researchers have found that any physical activity is better than no physical activity.

For those Americans over age 60, reaching the current U.S. guidelines for moderate-to-vigorous exercise has been linked to a 28 percent lower risk of dying over 10 years, compared to being completely sedentary. But, researchers found that those who had lower than the U.S. exercise guidelines were tied to a 22% percent reduction in mortality risk.

The study’s lead author Dr. David Hupin of the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France said “When our older patients cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week because of chronic diseases, we (the 2008 guidelines) recommend them to be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow”.

Dr. Hupin’s team wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that the 150 minutes per book of moderate-to-vigorous exercise suggests that the 2008 American Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans could be too much for many Seniors. This inevitably will discourage them from exercising at all. The study’s authors continue that more than an astounding 60 percent of older adults do not meet these weekly guidelines.

This inspired Dr. Hupin and his team to look investigate whether less exercise can still be beneficial. Studying 122,417 men and women between the ages of 60 and 101 in the U.S, Australia, and Taiwan. The researchers investigated each participants self-reported health status, weight, cholesterol, illnesses, and other details.

To standardize the subject’s exercise levels, they used Metabolic Equivalent of Task, or METs, to measure their workout's intensity and total amount. A MET then should represent the amount of energy expended per minute during a specific activity. Resting produces 1 MET, walking will count as 3-5.9 METS, and running would use over 6 METs.

From there researchers categorized participants into categories by their weekly dose. Low equaled 1-499 Mets, moderate 500-999, and high if over 1,000 METs. 

The mortality rate was 22% lower among subjects in the low METs category than those who did not exercise at all.

For those in the moderate METs group, there was 28% fewer deaths compared to those without any exercise. 

And finally they found that those who in the study’s top METs group, exerted at minimum 1,000 METs per week, had a 35% lower mortality rate. 

Scientific evidence is now emerging to show that there may be health benefits from light physical activity and from replacing sedentary activities with light intensity activities, when the dose of (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) is held constant,” Dr. Hupin said. “They must become less sedentary: cooking or working at a standing desk, rather than sitting.”

Dr. Hupin hopes that older Americans will take from his study that:

“Age is not an excuse to do no exercise”.

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