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Increased physical activity lowers 'preventable' deaths in older adults, study finds

Increased physical activity lowers 'preventable' deaths in older adults, study finds
Adding a few minutes of physical activity can lower adults' risk for 'preventable' death, according to a new study. Photo by pasja1000/Pixabay 

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Small increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among older adults in the United States prevents up to an estimated 275,000 deaths annually, a study published Monday JAMA Internal Medicine found.

By adding 30 minutes per day of physical activity, adults ages 40 to 85 years can lower the rate of "preventable" deaths nationally each year by roughly 17%, the data showed.

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An additional 20 minutes of physical activity daily among adults in this age group could reduce the number of preventable deaths by slightly more than 200,000, or about 13%, the researchers said.

Ten minutes more of physical activity per day for these adults would potentially lead to approximately 110,000, or 7%, fewer preventable deaths, according to the researchers.

RELATED Study: Lack of physical activity boosts risk for recurrence, death in cancer survivors

"We know exercise is good for us individually," study co-author Pedro F. Saint-Maurice told UPI via email.

"Our study [estimates] the relatively large number of deaths that could be prevented in the population with a small increase in individual daily physical activity, just 10 minutes per day," said Saint-Maurice, a post-doctoral fellow of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

Preventable deaths are those that could be avoided with healthy interventions such as exercise or treatment for a disease or chronic condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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RELATED Study links 'couch potato' lifestyle to 8% of global deaths

Recent estimates suggest that 8% of all deaths globally are linked with a lack of physical activity.

A study published earlier this month found that less active lifestyles increase the risk for disease recurrence and death among cancer survivors.

The CDC recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly.

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For this study, Saint-Maurice assessed the physical activity levels of 4,840 adults ages 40 to 85 years from across the United States and monitored their health over roughly a 10-year period.

Physical activity levels were measured using a wearable accelerometer, a device that measures movement and speed, the researchers said.

Over the study period, 1,165 of the participants died, according to the researchers.

About one in four of the participants, mostly in their 70s, engaged in fewer than 40 minutes of physical activity daily, on average, while those in their mid-50s to early 60s, nearly half, had 40 to 120 minutes of daily physical activity, the data showed.

Roughly 25% of study participants, primarily in their 40s and early 50s, averaged more than 120 minutes of daily physical activity, the researchers said.

The addition of 10 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity prevented 8% of total deaths among men and 6% of total deaths among women annually, they said.

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"This speaks to the strong health benefits physical activity," Saint-Maurice said.

"A wide range of activities like walking for exercise, cycling for fun or transportation, working out on cardio machines and playing sports like tennis or golf are all great ways to add more physical activity to your day," he said.

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