A new study of Brazilian older adults finds that those with the lowest levels of physical activity face a greater risk of premature death compared to those with higher levels of physical activity, regardless of overall health.
The findings are published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
It is well established that physical activity is a significant health booster for all ages. Among older adults, experts say that 9 percent of all premature deaths are caused by not getting enough physical activity. Physical activity is known to reduce deaths from heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and mental illness.
For the new study, a team of researchers wanted to take a closer look at the association between death and exercise among older adults in Brazil (where the number of older adults grew 40% between 2002 and 2012).
They used data from the “COMO VAI?” (Consórcio de Mestrado Orientado para a Valorização da Atenção ao Idoso) study. During the study, from January to August 2014, researchers conducted home interviews with 1,451 adults older than 60.
Of these, 971 participants were given wrist monitors to measure their physical activity. Researchers asked participants about their smoking habits and how they would rate their health. The participants also reported any chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, high cholesterol, depression, stroke, and cancer.
The researchers then rated participants’ ability to perform their normal daily activities, including bathing, dressing, getting from bed to chair, going to the bathroom, and feeding.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that participants who had the lowest levels of physical activity had higher rates of premature death compared to people who had higher levels of activity.
The researchers conclude that their main findings suggest that low levels of physical activity were associated with higher risks of death, no matter what a person’s level of health was. Overall, physical activity was important for avoiding early death in older men and women.
Source: American Geriatrics Society