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Increased physical activity may reduce mortality risk in older adults

Elaine Soliven
23 Apr 2020

Higher levels of light-intensity physical activity (LIPA) appears to be associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality in older adults, regardless of frailty status, according to a study presented at the EPI Lifestyle 2020 Scientific Sessions.

The researchers conducted a prospective study involving 1,262 Framingham Offspring Study participants (mean age 69 years, 54 percent women). All subjects were evaluated during their examination cycle 9 (between 2011 and 2014) by wearing accelerometers ≥10 hours/day for at least 4 days to measure PA. [EPI Lifestyle 2020, abstract 31]

During a mean follow-up of 4.6 years, a total of 67 deaths were reported.

A 30-minute daily increment in LIPA* and total PA was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.73; p=0.002 [LIPA] and HR, 0.72; p=0.001 [total PA]). These results remained statistically significant even after excluding participants who were frail at baseline (HR, 0.81; p=0.03 and HR, 0.80; p=0.04, respectively).

A higher adherence to the 2018 PA guidelines was also associated with a significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality (HR, 0.33; p=0.007 [overall cohort] and HR, 0.39; p=0.02 [non-frail subgroup]).

On the contrary, a 30-minute daily increase in sedentary time was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality in the overall population (HR, 1.32; p=0.002) and among non-frail participants (HR, 1.22; p=0.04).

The results were consistent with that of another study showing that older women who achieved >4,500 steps/day had a 48 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. “Our research shows that older women reduce their risk of heart disease by moving more in their daily life, including light activity and taking more steps. Being up and about, instead of sitting, is good for your heart,” said Professor Andrea LaCroix, Chief of Epidemiology at the University of California in San Diego, California, US. [EPI Lifestyle 2020, abstract 30]

Taken together, “we confirmed that being physically active substantially lowered mortality risk,” said Dr Joowon Lee from the Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

“[R]educing sedentary time and increasing LIPA … may be sufficient to reduce mortality risk in older adults,” he said.

Lee and his team highlighted the need for future studies with a larger multi-ethnic sample size and longer follow-up to confirm these findings.

 

*LIPA: casual walking, doing household chores
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