HealthDay News — A little exercise late in life may help men live longer, new research from Norway suggests. The study appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The research involved 5,738 Norwegian men born from 1923 to 1932 who underwent a health check in 1972 to 1973 and again in 2000. Monitoring continued for almost 12 years.
Sedentary men said they spent a lot of time reading and/or watching television. Moderate activity consisted of exercise, sports, or heavy gardening for at least four hours a week, while vigorous activity involved hard training or competitive sports several times a week.
Through 2011 in the study, 2,154 men died. Lead author Ingar Holme, DPhil, professor emeritus at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, told HealthDay that 51% of men who were sedentary in their 70s died from any cause, compared to about one-quarter of those who were moderately to vigorously active.
Just 30 minutes of moderate activity six days a week was associated with 40% lower risk of death, the researchers found. More exercise reaped even greater benefits, decreasing the odds of death from both cardiovascular disease or any cause.
Looking back further, men who were sedentary in their 40s lived five fewer years on average than those who were the most active. Increasing physical activity benefited life span as much as quitting smoking.
“Even in the elderly, there is a lot to gain by being moderately active as compared to being sedentary,” Holme said. “Given the evidence, physical activity is probably an important factor in getting people to age successfully.”