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Even a little moderate physical activity goes a long way for over-60s

People aged over 60 who undertake even a small amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week can reduce their risk of death, say French researchers.

They analysed nine studies that assessed risk of death in the over-sixties according to weekly physical activity, with a total of 122,417 people who were monitored for about ten years.

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Physical activity was measured in metabolic equivalent of task (MET) minutes, which express the amount of energy (calories) expended per minute of physical activity.

The researchers found that even those who did less than 500 MET minutes of physical activity a week had a 22% lower risk of death compared with those who were inactive. The more physical activity people engaged in, the greater the health benefits, with more than 1,000 MET minutes associated with a 35% lower risk of death.

The first 15 minutes of physical activity seemed to have the greatest impact, prompting the researchers to suggest that 15 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity could be a ‘reasonable target’.

‘The fact that any effort will be worthwhile may help convince those 60% of participants over 60 years of age who do not practise any regular physical activity to become active,’ they said.

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