Could a high level of exercise be the key to successful ageing?
Successful ageing was defined as the absence of depressive symptoms, disability, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and systemic conditions, for example cancer, coronary artery disease.
NEW RESEARCH has found that exercising above the recommended guidelines as we age could reduce the risk of developing a range of chronic diseases and help promote successful ageing. Conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, the team interviewed more than 1,584 Australian adults aged 50 and over and followed them over a 10-year period to investigate the relationship between physical activity and successful ageing.
Participants were asked about their levels of moderate or vigorous activity and walking exercise, which were then used to determine participants’ Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) over one week. MET measures an individual’s energy expenditure, with one MET defined as the energy it takes to sit quietly. Moderate-intensity activities burn around 3 to 6 METs, and vigorous-intensity activities burn more than 6 METs.
Successful ageing was defined as the absence of depressive symptoms, disability, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and systemic conditions, for example cancer, coronary artery disease. The team found that 249 (15.7 per cent) of the participants aged successfully 10 years later.
In addition, the results also showed that older adults who engaged in the highest levels of total physical activity, more than 5000 MET minutes each week, were twice as likely to avoid chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, angina, cancer and diabetes, and more likely to age successfully 10 years later, compared to those who engaged in the the lowest level of total physical activity, less than 1000?MET minutes per week.
Currently, the World Health Organisation recommends at least 600 MET minutes of physical activity each week, which is equivalent to 150 minutes of brisk walking or 75 minutes of running. “With ageing demographics in most countries, a major challenge is how to increase the quality and years of healthy life,” said the study’s lead researcher Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath. “Our findings suggest that physical activity levels need to be several times higher than what the World Health Organisation currently recommends to significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease.”