Even modest exercise good for the elderly

London: Even modest and regular exercise is good for the elderly as it decreases the risk of death among them, a new study says.

At least 15 minutes of physical activity for five days a week would be a suitable first target for the elderly.

“The exercise could include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or gymnastics,” said David Hupin from the department of clinical and exercise physiology at the University Hospital of St-Etienne-Lyon, France.

“This message should be relayed by general practitioners, who play a key and essential role in promoting exercise behaviour in the elderly,” Hupin added.

For the general population, a recommended exercise programme of 30 minutes at least five days a week (or 150 minutes per week) has been shown to reduce the average risk of death by 30 percent.

Hupin presented the results at EuroPRevent 2015.

For the study, 1,000 elderly subjects were enrolled at age 65 in 2001 and followed-up for 13 years.

During that follow-up, their level of physical activity was monitored and categorised according to five levels of MET-h (metabolic equivalent of task) values per week.

Mortality and cardio-vascular events were recorded over the follow-up period and associated with exercise levels.

Around 10 percent of the eligible cohort died during the follow-up period.

However, the risk of death was calculated to be 57 percent lower in those whose activity level was equal to or higher than the recommended 150 minutes per week.

Those doing a very low level of physical activity per week, had 51 percent lower risk of death than those doing the very minimum.

“Even a little is good, and more may be better,” Hupin said.