Exercise is the best medicine: QUT study

July 11, 2014 by Sandra Hutchinson, Queensland University of Technology

Women would benefit from being prescribed exercise as medicine, according to a QUT study that revealed moderate to high intensity activity is essential to reducing the risk of death in older women.

Professor Debra Anderson, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said that in addition to conventional treatments for physical and mental health, health professionals should be prescribing tailored programs for .

Professor Anderson and QUT's Dr Charlotte Seib co-authored a paper published in the international journal of midlife health and beyond, Maturitas, which pulls together five years of research looking into the impact of exercise on mental and physical health in women over the age of 50.

"Studies clearly show moderate to vigorous intensity activity can have mental and physical health benefits, particularly when part of broader positive health changes," Professor Anderson said.

"When once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, research is now telling us that older women should be doing at least 30-45 minutes five times a week of moderate to high and by that we mean exercise that leaves you huffing and puffing.

"It's also important that the exercise be tailored to ensure that it is high intensity enough to obtain the positive sustained effects of exercise."

Professor Anderson said studies had shown that high intensity exercise over a sedentary lifestyle significantly reduced the risk of death.

"Older adults who undertake regular physical activity also report significantly less disability, better physical function and that is regardless of their body mass," she said.

"The most active women are more likely to survive than the least physically active women.

"We have an ageing population and as a result promoting healthy ageing has become an important strategy for reducing morbidity and mortality."

Professor Anderson said research also linked exercise to improvements in mental well-being.

"What we are saying is that high-intensity exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your brain health," she said.

Professor Anderson, who works closely with older women through specialised women's wellness programs, said older women were capable of undertaking a range of activities beyond simply walking.

"Our studies show that mid-to-later in life women are jogging, running, hiking, swimming and riding," she said.

"Doctors should be developing that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities."

Explore further: Inactivity 'biggest factor' in women's heart risk

More information: Debra Anderson, Charlotte Seib, Laura Rasmussen, "Can physical activity prevent physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women?: A systematic review of the literature," Maturitas, Available online 20 June 2014, ISSN 0378-5122, DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.010.

Related Stories

Inactivity 'biggest factor' in women's heart risk

May 28, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Lack of exercise is a greater risk for heart disease in women over 30 than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, University of Queensland researchers have found.

Many overestimate exercise intensity, study finds

June 16, 2014
Do you work out for health benefits and feel you are exercising more than enough? You might be among the many Canadians who overrate how hard they work out or underestimate what moderate intensity exercise means, according ...

Paid work a 'barrier to exercise' for older women

July 1, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Older women in paid employment are less likely to take part in leisure-time physical activity, according to research by the University of Birmingham.

Keeping active pays off in your 70s and 80s

July 2, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Older people who undertake at least 25 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise everyday need fewer prescriptions and are less likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency, new research has revealed.

Diabetes prevented with just two minutes' exercise, academics discover

May 20, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by doing just two sessions of high-intensity training (HIT) a week, new research published in the journal Biology has shown.

Study looks at impact of Bhangra on South Asian women's health

July 4, 2014
Simon Fraser University researchers are studying the impact of Bhangra dance and standard exercise programs on the health of post-menopausal South Asian women.

Recommended for you

US paves way to get 'lab meat' on plates

November 17, 2018
US authorities on Friday agreed on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells—paving the way to get so-called "lab meat" on American plates.

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

robsong
not rated yet Aug 24, 2014
Except doctors know little if anything about exercise prescription

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.