Not only can physical activity levels serve as a predictor of death risk among older adults, but high levels of activity can mitigate the risk of dying from hardened arteries.

Doctors can assess elderly patients’ likelihood of dying within the next decade simply by asking how much they exercise and by examining coronary artery scans, according to a study in Mayo Clinical Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes (2020; 4 [3], 229–37). “Most notably, this valuable assessment of physical activity was easily obtained by asking patients just a single question about their physical activity,” said Alan Rozanski, MD, professor of medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “This emphasizes the well-touted importance of being active.”

Highlighting the value of consistent exercise, data analysis showed that those who had the least amounts of physical activity had the highest risk of death in the next 10 years. People with little or no calcification in arteries had a low risk of death, regardless of activity level. In contrast, people with high levels of calcification and high levels of physical activity had a low risk of death, similar to those with low levels of calcification.

See also: Major Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease