An easy walk, slow dancing, leisurely sports such as table tennis, household chores and other light-intensity exercise may be nearly as effective as moderate or vigorous exercise for older adults, if they get enough of that type of activity, as per a new research.
The Oregon State University research indicates that 300 minutes a week of light exercise provides some significant health benefits for people over age 65.
One gets a nice array of health benefits by doing five hours of light physical activity per week, said co-author Brad Cardinal, adding that 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.
Light exercise is more appealing to people over 65, and such activities do not generally require the approval of a physician, Cardinal said. Older adults, in particular, may be more reluctant to participate in moderate to vigorous exercise because of health concerns, including fear of injury.
Researchers found that older adults who participated in light intensity exercise activities for 300 minutes or more were 18 percent healthier, overall, than peers who did not log that much light activity. They had lower body mass index (BMI), smaller waist circumference, better insulin rates and were less likely to have chronic diseases, Cardinal said.
These findings highlight that, in addition to promoting moderate-intensity physical activity to older adults, we should not neglect the importance of engaging in lower-intensity, movement-based behaviors when the opportunity arises, said lead author Paul Loprinzi.
The study appears in American Journal of Health Promotion.