Reduced physical activity reduces life span

September 21, 2012
Credit: Suprijono Suharjoto | Dreamstime.com

(Medical Xpress)— A regular exercise regimen will increase life expectancy in the elderly, new research has found.

The Monash University-led study examined the significance of weight and physical function and the interaction on mortality in 1435 men and women aged 65 to 97 years, living in the community and representative of the Taiwanese population.

The results of the eight-year study were recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging. The study also included researchers from the National Research Institutes, Taiwan and the National Defense Medical Centre, Taiwan.

Lead author, Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and and the Monash Asia Institute, said being frail or losing weight was generally regarded as a major risk for reduced survival among the elderly.

"We found thin, elderly Taiwanese with sarcopenia – a condition of age-related loss of muscle mass and strength - and less skeleton are at the most risk of death, especially if physical function is limited. Those within the normal weight range or even overweight and active had a longer life expectancy with fewer health problems," Emeritus Professor Wahlqvist.

Survival was assessed in relation to weight and , along with physical function such as walking, climbing, performing daily chores and personal care.

The researchers found weight in relation to height ( (BMI) = /height2) was twice as likely to shorten the survival of the elderly when low (BMI < 18.5) than high (above 24.0). This increased to nine times more likely when combined with limited physical function. The findings took into account factors such as age, gender, socio-economics and personal behaviours that could have explained the association.

Emeritus Professor Wahlqvist said although this was not an , it raised the possibility that if physical function could be maintained, then mortality could be markedly reduced in this older age group.

"In light of these figures, both those in public health and clinicians need to look at preventive approaches or intervention strategies that might achieve better survival in older people in regard to thinness and physical dysfunction," Emeritus Professor Wahlqvist said.

"Even small changes involving modest regular physical aerobic and strengthening activities for several days a week could make a substantial difference in health outcomes for the elderly."

Explore further: Healthy eating key to girls' ability to learn

More information: DOI: 10.1007/s12603-012-0379-3

Related Stories

Healthy eating key to girls' ability to learn

July 17, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Lower birth weight and poor childhood diet can lead to poor learning and behaviour in children, particularly girls, according to new research.

Contrary to earlier findings, excess body fat in elderly decreases life expectancy

August 11, 2011
While some past studies have shown that persons carrying a few extra pounds in their 70s live longer than their thinner counterparts, a new study that measured subjects' weight at multiple points over a longer period of time ...

Study: Overweight older women have less leg strength, power

September 19, 2011
A new study from the University of New Hampshire finds that the leg strength and power of overweight older women is significantly less than that of normal-weight older women, increasing their risk for disability and loss ...

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.