Short, light bouts of exercise lower mortality risk in older men
Bouts of light-intensity exercise lasting 10 minutes were sufficient to lower the risk for death in most older men, according to findings recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
“Current activity guidelines suggest accumulating 150 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week in bouts lasting 10 or more minutes,” Barbara J. Jefferis, BA, MSc, PhD, FHEA, of the department of primary care and population health at University College in London and colleagues wrote. “We address important gaps in knowledge by focusing on older men ... [and] investigating dose–response associations, testing for linear and non-linear associations in order to understand whether the reductions in mortality risk for higher levels of physical activity are linear, or if there is a threshold level at which the benefits per unit of activity decrease (and conversely for sedentary behavior).”
“We also investigate whether, as suggested elsewhere, the association of sedentary behavior with mortality depends on [physical activity] level. Finally, a particularly novel and policy-relevant aspect of this paper is that we investigate patterns of accumulation of activity (including bout length and sedentary breaks) in relation to mortality,” they added.
Researchers analyzed physical activity data from 1,274 men aged 71 to 92 years (mean age, 78.4 years) from the previously conducted British Regional Heart Study who, for the new study, wore an accelerometer on the right hip while they were awake for a week, removing it only when they swam or bathed. Participants wore the device for a mean of 855 minutes each day, of which 199 minutes was considered light physical activity and the remainder considered sedentary.
Jefferis and colleagues found that after a median of 5 years, each additional half hour of sedentary activity led to an HR of 1.17 (95% CI, 1.1-1.25) for mortality; each additional half hour of light physical activity led to HR of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.77-0.9) for mortality; and each additional 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity led to HR of 0.9 (95% CI, 0.84-0.96) for mortality.
In addition, the HRs were 0.59 (95% CI, 0.43-0.81) for reaching 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week in occasional minutes, and 0.58 (95% CI 0.33-1) for reaching 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in bouts lasting 10 or more minutes.
“Findings could refine physical activity guidelines and make them more achievable for older adults with low activity levels: stressing the benefits of all activities, however modest, from light intensity upwards; second, encouraging accumulating activity of all intensities without the need to sustain bouts of 10 minutes or more,” Jefferis and colleagues wrote. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.