A recent study published in the journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes has talked about the correlation between physical activity and the quality of life of individuals over the age of sixty. The research indicates that reduced physical activity is associated with a lower quality of life among older adults.
The study also found that an increase in sedentary activities further exacerbates the decline in quality of life. These findings clearly indicate that importance should be given towards motivating older individuals to remain physically active.
Physical activity reduces the risk of various diseases
Physical activity is well-known to reduce the risk of various diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Moderate-intensity exercise that elevates the heart rate for at least 150 minutes per week or vigorous-intensity exercise for 75 minutes per week is recommended by the NHS for adults.
Furthermore, it is advised that older adults incorporate brief periods of light movement or at least standing into their routines, alternating with longer stretches of inactivity. This approach has clear benefits for their overall health.
The study, led by a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, involved analyzing activity levels among 1,433 participants aged 60 and above using accelerometers. These participants were part of the EPIC-Norfolk study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer). The researchers also assessed the participants’ health-related quality of life, which includes aspects such as pain, self-care ability, and mood/anxiety. Each participant received a score between 0 (indicating the worst quality of life) and 1 (indicating the best quality of life) based on their responses to a questionnaire. Lower quality of life scores are associated with an increased risk of hospitalization, poorer outcomes after hospitalization, and early mortality.
Approximately six years later, the participants were followed up to examine changes in their behaviour and quality of life. On average, both men and women were engaging in around 24 minutes less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day and spending an additional 33 to 38 minutes per day in sedentary activities, compared to their initial assessment.
The study found that individuals who engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and spent less time in sedentary behaviours during their initial assessment experienced a higher quality of life in the subsequent years. Each additional hour of physical activity per day was associated with a 0.02 increase in the quality of life score.