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Light-intensity exercise brings significant health benefits for older adults

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Posted June 16, 2015

Usually people who are looking to bettering their physical condition and health overlook importance of light-intensity exercise. However, new study at Oregon State University shows that low intensity exercise, such as easy walk, slow dancing, leisurely sports such as table tennis, household chores and so on, may be nearly as effective as moderate or vigorous exercise, especially for older adults.

Light-intensity exercise brings similar health benefits as moderate or vigorous exercise for older adults. It is important to just keep moving. Image courtesy: oregonstate.edu.

Light-intensity exercise brings similar health benefits as moderate or vigorous exercise for older adults. It is important to just keep moving. Image courtesy: oregonstate.edu.

The researchers examined data from the 2003-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that older adults who participated in light intensity exercise activities for at least 300 minutes per week enjoyed many health benefits. They had lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference, better insulin rates and were less likely to have chronic diseases than those who did not participate in such activities. Brad Cardinal, professor who led the study, said that “you get a nice array of health benefits by doing five hours of light physical activity per week”.

Professor Cardinal noted that 300 minutes a week of light exercise provides some significant health benefits for people over age 65. For older people light-intensity exercise is a very appealing prospect as for some moderate or vigorous exercise can be too hard. Professor says that such activities do not generally require the approval of a physician and are less dangerous in terms of injuries. Also, such activities do not have to be sports at all.

Scientists say that every kind of physical activity helps to bring these important health benefits. For example, such activities walking around the house while talking on the phone, going for a walk or doing house chores can be considered light-intensity exercise too. Those who seek to have more fun, can choose dancing or table tennis. The most important part is to keep moving.

However, it is not new that physical activities bring health benefits. This new study provides other insights as well. The study was needed to better understanding of how the light activity and improved health are connected. Current exercise guidelines emphasize moderate to vigorous exercise, while new study proves that light-intensity exercise brings similar health benefits. Professor Cardinal sums up his research insights like this – “doing something is dramatically better than doing nothing”, which is something we all, not just older people, should remember in our stress-filled lives.

Source: Oregon State University

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