Two studies, one finding: Keep walking to prolong life

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Two studies, one finding: Keep walking to prolong life

In a Korean study, octogenarians who walked at least one hour weekly had 40% and 39% lower relative risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, compared to inactive people. Photo by Béria L. Rodríguez/Wikimedia Commons

Walking is a simple and easy exercise for the “oldest old,” and strolling even one hour every week — 10 minutes a day — may help to prolong their lives, a new study says.

Compared to inactive individuals, octogenarians walking at least one hour weekly had 40% and 39% lower relative risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively.

And walking was linked with prolonged life in older adults, regardless of whether they did any moderately to vigorously intense physical activity.

The South Korean study’s poster was released Wednesday, and its presentation is scheduled for Sunday, at the European Society of Cardiology’s Congress 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.

Adults, regardless of their age, are advised to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity activity, or an equivalent combination, a news release noted. But sedentary time tends to increase with age as physical activity declines.

“Adults are less likely to meet activity recommendations as they get older,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Moo-Nyun Jin, of Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital in Seoul, said in the release.

Jin said identifying the minimum amount of exercise that can benefit the most elderly is important since recommended activity levels can be difficult to achieve.

“Our study suggests that walking at least one hour every week is beneficial for people aged 85 years and older. Put simply, walk for 10 minutes every day,” Jin said.

He added: “The take home message is to keep walking throughout life.”

Separately, research from the National Cancer Institute, also released Wednesday, touted the benefits of walking and other physical activity for slightly younger people: ages 59 to 82.

The NCI study, whose findings were published in JAMA Network Open, said older people who walk for exercise or take part in other activities — such as jogging, swimming laps, or playing tennis — may have a lower risk of death from any cause, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Doing the recommended amount of weekly physical activity through any combination of these activities was linked to a 13% lower risk of death from any cause, compared with inactivity, the researchers said.

While playing racquet sports was associated with the greatest reduction in risk of cardiovascular death — a 27% drop, running was linked to the greatest reduction in risk of cancer death: a 19% drop.

The Korean study examined the association between walking and the risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality among adults aged 85 years and older.

The researchers used information from the Korean National Health Insurance Service Senior database. The study included 7,047 adults aged 85 or older who underwent the Korean National Health Screening Program from 2009 to 2014 and completed a questionnaire on their levels of physical activity.

Included were questions on the length of time spent each week walking at a slow pace, moderate intensity activity such as cycling and brisk walking, and vigorous intensity activity such as running.

The study participants were 87 years old on average, and nearly 7 in 10 were women. They were placed into five groups according to the time that they spent walking at a slow pace per week.

In all, 57.5% of them did no slow walking; 8.5% walked less than one hour a week; 12% walked one to two hours; 8.7% walked two to three hours, and 13.3% walked more than three hours.

Of the participants who walked at a slow pace every week, one-third of them also performed moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity.

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