• One hour of walking per week, or ten minutes a day, reduces the risk of dying by 40% in those 85 years and above.
  • The study tracked the exercise levels of 7,000 adults between 2009 and 2014.

Researchers from Korea have found that just one hour of walking per week is enough to reduce the chance of dying from all causes by 40% in people over 85.

The study comprised 7,047 adults aged 85 and older who took part in the Korean National Health Screening Programme from 2009 to 2014, with the participants asked to complete a questionnaire on leisure-time physical activity.

Dr Moo-Nyun Jin of University Sangye Paik Hospital and lead study author said: “Adults are less likely to meet activity recommendations as they get older.

“Our study suggests that walking at least one hour every week is beneficial for people aged 85 years and older. Put simply, walk for 10 minutes every day.”

Participants were asked questions about the length of time they spent each week walking at a slow pace, taking part in a moderate-intensity activities such as cycling and brisk walking, and vigorous-intensity activities such as running.

14.7% or 1,037 of the adults in the study participated in moderate-intensity physical activity, while 10.9% or 773 participants undertook vigorous-intensity physical activity.

2,996 participants walked at a slow pace every week, with 33% also involved in moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity.

When analysing the association between the different activity levels, it was found that compared to the most inactive individuals, those in the three highest walking categories had a 40% lower risk of dying from all causes. Alongside this, they also had a 39% lower chance of death from cardiovascular-related causes.

In England, only one in 20 adults follow NHS exercise recommendations, despite the benefits of regular exercise, including reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Jin said: “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. Identifying the minimum amount of exercise that can benefit the oldest 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. The take home message is to keep walking throughout life.”

This study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2022 on the 24th of August.

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