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15 minutes exercise each day can have health benefits

15 minutes exercise each day can have health benefits
24th June 2016

A new study has suggested that just 15 minutes of exercise each day can benefit older adults.

Presented at the EuroPRevent 2016 meeting by Dr David Hupin, a physician in the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, the research found that this short period of activity was associated with a 22 per cent lower risk of death.

It's hoped that this amount of exercise will be an achievable target for older adults and will encourage more people to stay active as they age.

"Age is not an excuse to do no exercise," said Dr Hupin. "It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment."

However, less than half of older adults get the recommended minimum of 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise each week.

With this in mind, the researchers wanted to find out whether less exercise could still benefit older people.

During the study, the team looked at a French cohort of more than 1,000 65-year-olds in 2001 who were followed over a period of 12 years. They also looked at an international group of 60-year-olds, with more than 122,000 people involved in this systematic review and meta-analysis. On average, people in this group were monitored for around ten years.

Their physical activity was measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes per week, which focuses on the amount of calories burned for each minute of movement. For example, one MET minute per week is equal to the amount of energy used just sitting down.

Recommended levels of exercise measure between 500 and 1000 MET minutes a week.

The team looked at the associated risk of death for four categories of activity: inactive, low (1-499), medium (500-999) or high (1,000+).

Over the study period, nine per cent of the French group and 15 per cent of the international participants died. The team found that the risk of death reduced as the level of exercise increased.

In comparison to people who were completely inactive, older adults with low, medium and high activity levels had a 22 per cent, 28 per cent and 35 per cent lower risk of death respectively.

Dr Hupin said: "These two studies show that the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit. The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit."

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