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Any kind of physical activity offers considerable benefits

February 13, 2013

A healthy lifestyle for seniors includes a number of different factors, but the one constant is physical activity. Most adults may think this requires a dedicated exercise regimen, and while that will certainly get the job done, results of a new study from Oregon State University suggest that simply living an active lifestyle, such as taking the stairs or raking leaves, could offer the same number of benefits. 

The findings, which were published recently in an issue of American Journal of Health Promotion, were based off an analysis of more than 6,000 adults. Researchers found that 43 percent of the participants who got physical activity in short bursts met the recommended 30 minutes a day, while less than 10 percent of people who had structured exercise regimens met that goal. Study authors also found that the participants experienced similar improvements in terms of lower risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The results suggest that even small lifestyle changes could improve a senior's chances for healthy aging.

"We are designed by nature as beings who are supposed to move," said Brad Cardinal, the study's co-author. "People get it in their minds, if I don't get that 30 minutes, I might as well not exercise at all. Our results really challenge that perception and give people meaningful, realistic options for meeting the physical activity guidelines."

The message from the study is clear: stay moving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 65 and older should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, and as the study emphasizes, whether that's in the form of jogging, walking for 10 minutes at a time or gardening, it does not matter.