Older adults should enjoy active leisure for a longer, healthier life. Recent research shows that doing different recreational and exercise activities to achieve recommended physical weekly activity levels is linked with as much as a 13% lower death risk for older adults.
National Cancer Institute researchers in Rockville, Maryland, analyzed data from 272,550 adults ages 59–82 and evaluated whether participating in seven activities—running, cycling, swimming, aerobic exercise, racquet sports, golf and exercise walking—showed a relationship with enhanced longevity.
Playing racquet sports was associated with the greatest benefit—a 16% overall risk reduction and a 27% risk reduction of death by heart disease. Running offered a 15% overall risk reduction and the greatest reduction (19%) in cancer death risks.
Even minimal participation—less than weekly recommendations—offers 5% risk reduction benefits. Study authors suggest that older adults find enjoyable activities that they will sustain. A caveat is that the study population was primarily high socioeconomic, white and older, so results may not be generalizable to the general population.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open (2022; 5 , 2228510).
See also: Vigorous Exercise Benefits Older Adults
Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.
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