15 Minutes a Day Can Add Years to Lives

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15 Minutes

The older one gets, the more daunting it can be to workout. Many articles (and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]) have long suggested adults get about two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities per week and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week– and more for seniors! Recognizing that less than half meet the goal, researchers in Europe wanted to find out whether shorter exercise periods, that could be more easily achieved, could be beneficial. The resulting study suggests that 15 minutes of physical activity each day can be enough to lower the risk of death for older adults and, therefore, add years to their lives.

The research presented at a conference on Tuesday indicated that a mere 15 minutes of daily exercise, such as a brisk walk or even weeding the garden, lowers the risk of death by 22 percent. Conversely, adults who actually get the recommended amount of exercise lower their change of dying early by 35 percent.

Dr. David Hupin, from the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, shared the French study at the EuroPRevent 2016 meeting. Noting that the fact that being physically active for 15 minutes daily had a positive effect and could be a reasonable exercise target (and accomplishment) for older people, the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology physician pointed out that “less than half of older adults achieve the recommended minimum of 150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise each week.”

The study involved two groups of participants whose activity and health data was evaluated. The first group consisted of more than 1,000 French participants who were age 65 in 2001 and followed for the next 12 years. The second group was an international group of more than 122,000 subjects who were 60 years old. The international study involved a meta-analysis and review of data over 10 years from public health databases.

The team found that a low level of activity, even if far less than half the recommended amount, results in a reduced risk of death in older adults as opposed to those adults who remained inactive. Compared to the people who were inactive, the adults studied who regularly had either low, medium or high levels of physical activity had, respectively, a 22 percent, 28 percent and 35 percent lower death risk and potentially longer life span.

A little exercise is better than none at all. However, “the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit,” added Hupin. The researchers found the greatest “benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit.” Exercise has also been proven to prevent other signs of aging, such as memory loss and reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease.

As Hupin commented, “Age is not an excuse to do no exercise.” So, while others strive for their 15 minutes of fame, taking a regular short exercise break each day can add years to one’s life.

Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss

European Society of Cardiology: 15 minutes daily exercise may be reasonable target in older adults
TIME: 15 Minutes of Exercise a Day May be Just Enough: Study
The Telegraph: A brisk 15-minute walk a day lowers death risk for older adults
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): How much physical activity do adults need?

Photo courtesy of Don DeBold’s Flickr page – Creative Commons license