About 77 million Americans will turn 65 in the next decade, meaning 10,000 people are getting the senior citizen tag each day for the next 10 years. A new study suggests that people can remain healthy in the later years of life by being physically active.
More than 1,000 men and women from Taiwan, between the ages of 65 and 97, took part in the study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Monash along with researchers from Taiwan.
The researchers found that frail, thin people were more likely to die early than people who had a healthy body mass index (BMI) score of around 24.0. In addition, people who were physically active had lower chances of dying early, even if their BMI was higher than the healthy range.
"Those within the normal weight range or even overweight and active had a longer life expectancy with fewer health problems," said Mark Wahlqvist from the University of Monash. "In light of these figures, both those in public health and clinicians need to look at preventive approaches or intervention strategies that might achieve better survival in older people in regard to thinness and physical dysfunction," Wahlqvist said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that senior adults get at least 2 and half hours or 150 minutes of physical activity every week. The agency says that the required 150 minutes can be broken down into chunks of 10 minute workouts.
One out of every three adults aged 65 or older falls each year. Falls can result in serious injuries or even early death. The CDC recommends elderly individuals to get regular exercise and vision correction to prevent falls. Falls significantly raise the risk of elders losing mobility or dying.
"Even small changes involving modest regular physical aerobic and strengthening activities for several days a week could make a substantial difference in health outcomes for the elderly," said Wahlqvist.