Even small doses of moderate activity can help seniors: study

Saint-Etienne, France – Older adults can benefit from doing even a small amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, according to a review of research by Jean Monnet University.

Researchers examined nine studies about weekly physical activity and risk of death in nearly 123,000 participants 60 and older. Moderate activity is considered between 3 and 5.9 MET minutes (ratio of the rate of energy expended during an activity to the rate of energy expended at rest), while vigorous activity is considered 6 or more. The national recommendation calls for 500 to 1,000 MET minutes per week, which might be too high for older adults and could discourage them, according to a press release.

Participating in less than 500 MET minutes per week was connected to a 22 percent lower risk of death. Those who met the weekly recommendation had a 28 percent lower risk, and those with more than 1,000 MET minutes had a 35 percent lower risk.

Participants who increased their activity after being inactive or doing a minimal amount had the greatest benefit.

The research was published online Aug. 3 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.