Bit of Activity Boosts Health

While the health and longevity benefits of 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity re well established, many of us fail to reach this target.  David Hupin, from Jean Monnet University (France), and colleagues completed a meta-analysis of 9 published studies, involving a total of 122,417 participants, that assessed risk of death according to weekly physical activity for those ages 60-plus.   Physical activity was measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes – an expression of the amount of energy (calories) expended per minute of physical activity: moderate intensity activity ranges between 3 and 5.9 MET minutes while vigorous intensity activity is classified as 6 or more.  Pooled analysis of the data showed that activity less than 500 weekly MET minutes of physical activity associated with a 22% lowered risk of death compared with those who were inactive. As expected, the more physical activity an individual engaged in, the greater the health benefit:  a 28% lower risk of death was found for those fulfilling the recommended weekly tally of MET minutes, and over 1000 MET minutes associated with a 35% lower risk.  Importantly, the data showed that a weekly tally of 250 MET minutes – corresponding to 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (15 minutes a day), associated with health benefits – of which the first 15 minutes of physical activity seemed to have the greatest impact. The study authors submit that: “A dose of [moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity] below current recommendations reduced mortality by 22% in older adults. A further increase in physical activity dose improved these benefits in a linear fashion. Older adults should be encouraged to include even low doses of [moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity] in their daily lives.”

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