A new study has found that people aged 85 and above who spend at least an hour every week walking can reduce their risk of dying from any cause by as much as 40 percent.
The study was conducted by researchers from South Korea, who presented the findings of their study at the 2022 congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
Regardless of age, adults are strongly advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week, or an equivalent combination. The researchers noted that, for adults, sedentary time tends to increase with age, while the amount of physical activity declines. (Related: Study: Walking for an extra 10 minutes daily can increase your life expectancy.)
“Adults are less likely to meet activity recommendations as they get older,” said study author Dr. Moo-Nyun Jin of the Sanggye Paik Hospital of Inje University in Seoul. “Put simply, walk for 10 minutes every day.”
The Korean study examined the association between walking and the risks of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality among adults 85 years old and older. Jin and the other researchers used information from Korea’s National Health Insurance Service Senior database.
The study included 7,047 adults 85 years old and above who went through the Korean National Health Screening Program between 2009 and 2014. The average age of the participants was 87 years. Sixty-eight percent of them were women.
The researchers asked the study participants to complete a questionnaire. They asked about their leisure-time physical activity and how much time they spent each week either walking at a slow pace, participating in a moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking and cycling, and vigorous-intensity activity such as jogging.
All-cause and cardiovascular mortality rates decreased the more people walked per week
The researchers grouped the participants into five distinct categories based on how much time they spent slow walking each week – from little to no slow walking to over three hours of slow walking per week. They were also grouped based on how much physical activity they engaged in every week – from little to no moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to either 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or a combination of the two.
Nearly 2,400 participants – or 34 percent – of study participants walked between one hour a week to more than three hours a week. Five hundred and ninety-seven people slow-walked less than one hour a week and 4,051 people did little to no slow walking per week.
Of the several thousand people who slow-walked enough per week, 999 also engaged in sufficient amounts of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week.
The researchers found strong associations between walking, all-cause mortality and cardiovascular-related mortality after adjusting for how much energy the study participants expended on moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.
Compared to the more inactive participants of the study, those who walked an hour every week had 40 percent and 39 percent lower relative risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively.
“Walking was linked with a lower likelihood of dying in older adults, regardless of whether or not they did any moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity,” said Jin. “Identifying the minimum amount of exercise that can benefit the old is an important goal since recommended activity levels can be difficult to achieve.”
“Our study indicates that walking even just one hour every week is advantageous to those aged 85 years and older compared to being completely inactive,” Jin continued. “The take-home message is to keep walking throughout life.”
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