Just 5 hours of light exercise every week can be very beneficial for older adults, especially those aged over 65 years, according to a research report. In fact, it can be almost as effective as moderate or even vigorous exercise. This should come as good news for older adults who are particularly apprehensive about injury or overexertion.
The study found that older people who got at least 300 minutes of light intensity exercise per week were 18% healthier than their peers who did not engage in light exercise for as long. These adults also had lower body mass indices (BMIs), a smaller waist and better insulin rates, and they were also less likely to suffer from a chronic disease.
“You get a nice array of health benefits by doing five hours of light physical activity per week,” says, Brad Cardinal, professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University and co-author of the study. “There appears to be some real value in devoting at least three percent of the 168 hours available in a week to these light forms of physical activity.”
The study appears in the American Journal of Health Promotion. While it supports the growing body of evidence that light exercise for elderly can improve their health, more research on the subject is necessary to understand how the benefits arise, said Cardinal.
The UK’s National Health Service recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week for adults over 64 who are in general good health. However, that may prove daunting for many people. Light exercise, such as going for a walk or even doing household chores, could sound far more doable.
Cardinal says that the latest research emphasizes that doing something is dramatically better than doing nothing. He says, “For the average, everyday person, that is a much more palatable message than the current guidelines that emphasize moderate to vigorous exercise.”
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