How much exercise impacts mortality in adults 60 and older? 

Question:

What amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity impacts mortality in adults 60 and older, and is it different than the recommended guidelines?

Conclusion:

A lower dose than the recommended 150+ minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise reduced mortality in older adults compared to their inactive counterparts.

Process:

  • 9 of 835 studies qualified for analysis
  • Study quality assessed by two reliable methods; studies only included if criteria met in both
  • Follow-up period of at least 3 years required

Analysis:

  • Exercise measured in MET-minutes, which is the amount of energy expenditure for the exercise per minute
  • “Doses” of exercise based on intensity, duration and frequency – divided into low, medium and high doses
  • Recommendation is 500-1000 MET-minutes per week (about 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise)

Results:

Compared to an inactive population, 60 and older:

  • 22% lower mortality risk in the low dose moderate-to-vigorous activity group
  • 28% lower mortality risk in the medium dose moderate-to-vigorous activity group
  • 35% lower mortality risk in the high dose moderate-to-vigorous activity group
  • Greatest benefit seen in those who do little or no activity and increase

Other Information:

  • Much of the data analyzed came from two large studies, so there is some bias towards those populations and study methods
  • There isn’t guidance as to the minimum amount of activity required in the low dose group in the analysis in the range of 1-499 MET-minutes
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