Among mature women, those who regularly participate in physical activity during middle age are often in better general health, according to a new Harvard School of Public Health study.
Qi Sun, M.D., and colleagues assessed 13,535 study participants, at an average age of 60. Those who had increased levels of exercise were less likely to have physical or cognitive impairments, heart surgery or chronic diseases.
“Since the American population is aging rapidly and nearly a quarter of Americans do not engage in any leisure-time activity, our findings appear to support federal guidelines regarding physical activity to promote health among older people,” the authors write in the report, which appears in JAMA’s Archives of Internal Medicine. Exercise has the potential to enhance overall health and well-being with aging.
Older adults need at least
• 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.
• Or an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.
• More health benefits can be gained by increasing exercise up to or beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.
Once- or twice-weekly resistance training, such as balance and tone training, can also improve attention and conflict resolution skills among older women. Resistance training can strengthen mental focus as well as improve muscular function.
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