Ongoing research continues to show that getting exercise on a regular basis can extend your expected lifespan. Newer studies are showing an association that can be related to nearly any type of activity and an increased life expectancy. Activity is also linked to a decreased risk for developing many different diseases, which can be important for maintaining a good quality of life throughout your senior years.

Consistent Exercise and Longer Life

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week for adults [1]. This can be broken down into 30 minutes on each of 5 days during the week. Adults who completed the recommended amount were found to have an increase the expected lifespan by 2 to 5 years when compared to those who were leading a sedentary lifestyle, according to information provided by the Center for Advancing Health [2]. While this is good information, it’s important to note that some people may experience limited mobility, especially during aging. This could make it extremely difficult for these individuals to engage in moderate activity, especially for the recommended half an hour on 5 days every week.

Any Activity May Help

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are finding that any type of activity is better than none at all when it comes to longevity [3]. Those who did moderate forms of activity, such as walking briskly, were able to add almost two years to their life expectancy when completing only half of the recommended amount. This means that even competing 75 minutes a week or 15 minutes a day is still beneficial to longevity.

Not only is half of the time found to be beneficial, but so is half of the exertion. International studies are finding that those who engage in any type of physical activity for the recommended 30 minutes a day on 5 days a week can enjoy a longer lifespan [4]. Individuals can perform a wide range of activities that involve physical movement toward their overall time. Some activities found to be helpful for increasing longevity include:

  • Lifting
  • Moving around
  • Sweeping
  • Scrubbing
  • Folding laundry
  • Walking
  • Gardening

Whether the activity was from housework, activity required through employment, or scheduled exercise time, all forms of activity were found to be helpful. Adults who enjoyed any type of activity from between 2 1/2 and 12 1/2 hours a week were found to have a 20% less likely risk of death than those who engaged in less activity. Unsurprisingly, those who enjoyed even more activity, more than the 12 1/2 hours a week, had a 35% reduced risk of dying. Even the not-so-physical activity of reading has been shown to help lower the risk of dying by more than 20%.

Activity and the Elderly

Even individuals with mobility impairment concerns or who engage in little activity may find hope in more recent studies. It seems that just leaving your home on a regular basis may help to increase longevity in seniors [5]. This effect on life span was found to be independent of social and medical factors. It may be that the point of remaining engaged and doing things that you enjoy as you get older can be enough to maintain resilience to provide benefits to your health and length of life.

Getting the Right Care

Because any activity is better than nothing, seniors may want to find ways to increase their movement and time spent in enjoyable activities throughout the day. Just getting out of the house for an easy walk and a breath of fresh air can go a long way toward a better and longer life.

If you have physical limitations due to an injury, Maplewood of Sauk Prairie can help you to get back on track with outpatient rehabilitation services. Even if you need a long-term care solution, you’ll be able to get the activity that you need to enjoy a longer, healthier life. You won’t be confined to the facility, and you’ll still be able to get out to enjoy the things that you love to do.

Sources:

[1] “Physical activity improves quality of life”, The American Heart Association. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.Wku8Jt-nHIV

[2] Fauntleroy, Glenda. “Exercise Can Extend Your Life by as Much as Five Years”, Center for Advancing Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2012/exercise-can-extend-your-life-by-as-much-as-five-years

[3] “A Little Exercise Might Lengthen Life”, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/little-exercise-might-lengthen-life

[4] “Any Kind of Regular Physical Activity Can Lengthen Your Life”, Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://cspinet.org/tip/any-kind-regular-physical-activity-can-lengthen-your-life

[5] Hubbard, Sylvia Booth. “Leaving the House Every Day Helps Seniors Live Longer”, Newsmax Health. Retrieved January 2, 2018 from https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/seniors-longevity-survival-leaving/2017/11/22/id/82768

About Paul Fiscus

Paul Fiscus is the director of Maplewood of Sauk Prairie.