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Regular 30-Minute Exercise Cuts Death Risk Among Elderly Men

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Exercise can provide longevity benefit to older individuals with a new study providing evidence that older men who spend 30 minutes per day on exercise are likely to live longer compared with their couch potato counterparts.

In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on May 14, researchers from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo, Norway looked at 6,000 men who were between 60 and 70 years old and found that those who routinely engage in 30-minute exercise six days per week had 40 percent reduced odds of dying over a 12-year period compared with their counterparts who were sedentary.

The researchers likewise found that while less than an hour of engaging in light activity per week did not significantly drop the risk of death; vigorous exercise can reduce risk of death from any cause by up to 37 percent.

They also found that those who had the most vigorous intensity activity lowered their risk by as high as 49 percent with the men who engage in moderate to vigorous exercise living five years longer compared with the sedentary men involved in the study.

The researchers noted that risk of death from stroke and heart disease was associated with a slight difference to the result. They likewise found that exercise was so beneficial among the participants that the effects were comparable to quitting smoking.

"Increased physical activity was as beneficial as smoking cessation in reducing all-cause mortality," the researchers said. "Equally more time and resources should be used to advice on smoking cessation as well as increased degree of physical activity in the elderly."

Results of the study prompted the authors to suggest that public health strategies targeted to the elderly should also include physical activity and doctors should inform patients about health problems that can be prevented by exercise.

"Even at the age of 73 years, PA is associated highly with mortality between groups of sedentary and active persons. Allowing for competing risk did not weaken these associations markedly," the researchers wrote. "Public health strategies in elderly men should include efforts to increase PA in line with efforts to reduce smoking behavior."

The researchers, however, noted that the study is observational and the findings may not show a cause and effect relationship.

A 2014 study by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found a similar result. Men who cycled or walked for at least 20 minutes per day had 30 percent reduced odds of dying from any cause than men who engage in less exercise.

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