30-Minute workout lowers 40 percent death risk in elderly

Men with regular physical activity may live five years longer on average, study finds

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Thirty minutes regular activity for six days a week, no matter how intense, helps to reduce the risk of death from any cause in elderly men, according to a recent study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Elder men can benefit from the increased physical activities as good as quitting smoking, study says.  

The researchers used a database of patients who took part in the 1972-3 Oslo Study containing the records – height, cholesterol and blood pressure– of 15,000 men born between 1923 and 1932. They were also asked to fill a survey for their leisure time physical activities as well as whether they smoked or not.

These activities were grouped according to their intensity: sedentary (TV, books); light (walking/cycling at least 4 hours a week); moderate (exercise, gardening, sporting at least 4 hours a week) and vigorous (hard training or competitive sports several times a week).

Almost three decades later in 2000, surviving of 5,738 men were invited again to repeat the same process and to be monitored for almost 12 years to see if physical activity is linked with risk of death of any cause or heart attack.

During this screening period 2,154 of the men have died.

Findings showed that while light exercise doesn’t have any meaningful reduction, more than one hour physical activity is linked to 32 percent to 56 percent lower death risk from any cause.

However, vigorous exercise didn’t change the percentages as expected. Less than one hour of competitive sporting or heavy exercise reduces the risk by between 23 percent and 37 percent.

The comprehensive statistical study also finds that men engaged in moderate to vigorous daily physical activities lived five years longer on the average.

The physicians conclude that meaningful physical activity in older ages must be encouraged even if it’s as short as 30 minutes daily.