Turns out, for older women, living a longer life is as easy as folding laundry or doing any other ordinary household chores. In the University at Buffalo study of more than 6,000 white, African-American and Hispanic women ages 63 to 99, researchers reported significantly lower risk of death in those who were active at levels only slightly higher than what defines being sedentary. A previous study showed that acquiring life skills could ensure good health in old age.
Women who engaged in 30 minutes per day of light physical activity — as measured by an accelerometer instead of a questionnaire — had a 12% lower risk of death. Women who were able to do a half-hour each day of moderate to vigorous activity had a 39% lower mortality risk, according to the study.
For the age group in this study, light physical activities include regular chores such as folding clothes, sweeping the floor or washing the windows. Activities like these account for more than 55% of how older people spend their daily activity. Moderate to vigorous activities would be brisk walking or bicycling at a leisurely pace.
The bottom line? “Doing something is better than nothing, even when at lower-than-guideline recommended levels of physical activity,” said lead author Michael LaMonte. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show this.”
Even when researchers simultaneously accounted for the amount of each type of activity (light and moderate-to-vigorous) a woman did, they still observed significantly lower mortality associated with each time, independently of the other.
The study is published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
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