Five hours a week of light-intensity exercise provide significant health benefits for people over age 65, suggests a new research.
An easy walk, slow dancing, leisurely sports like table tennis, household chores and other light-intensity exercise may be nearly as effective as moderate or vigorous exercise for older adults, the study said.
"You get a nice array of health benefits by doing five hours of light physical activity per week," said co-author Brad Cardinal, professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
Light exercise is more appealing to people over 65, and such activities do not generally require the approval of a physician.
The researchers examined data from the 2003 to 2006, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Older adults who participated in light-intensity exercise activities for 300 minutes or more were 18 percent healthier, overall, than peers who did not log that much light activity.
They had lower body mass index (BMI), smaller waist circumference, better insulin rates and were less likely to have chronic diseases.
"These results highlight that, in addition to promoting moderate-intensity physical activity to older adults, we should not neglect the importance of engaging in lower-intensity, movement-based behaviours when the opportunity arises," said lead author Paul Loprinzi, an assistant professor of exercise science and health promotion at the University of Mississippi.
"This research suggests that doing something is dramatically better than doing nothing," he said.
"For the average every-day person that is a much more palatable message than the current guidelines that emphasize moderate to vigorous exercise."
The study was published in the journal American Journal of Health Promotion.