Older adults who remain more active have a better quality of life: Study
A new study finds that the older you are, the more active you need to be to maintain a high quality of life.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge studied 1400 participants aged 60 and above. They found that even spending fifteen minutes a day less engaged when older can lower quality of life, leading to a increased risk of hospitalization and early death.
“Keeping yourself active and limiting—and where you can, breaking up—the amount of time you spend sitting down is really important whatever stage of life you’re at. This seems to be particularly important in later life, when it can lead to potentially significant improvements to your quality of life and your physical and mental well-being,” said Dr. Dharani Yerrakalva from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge.
Participants were given a score between 0 (worst quality of life) and 1 (best) based on their responses to a questionnaire. Lower quality of life scores are linked with an increased risk of hospitalization, worse outcomes following hospitalization, and early death.
Participants were followed up an average of just under six years later to look at changes in their behavior and quality of life. The results of the study are published in Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.
Those individuals who did more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and spent less time sedentary at their first assessment had a higher quality of life later on. An hour a day spent more active was associated with a 0.02 higher quality of life score.
For every minute a day less of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity measured six years after the first assessment, quality of life scores dropped by 0.03. This means that an individual who spent 15 minutes a day less engaged in such activity would have seen their score drop by 0.45.
Increases in sedentary behaviors were also associated with poorer quality of life—a drop in the score of 0.012 for everyone minute a day increase in total sedentary time six years after the first measurement. This means that an individual who spent 15 minutes a day more sitting down would have seen their score drop by 0.18.
To put the results into a clinical context, a 0.1 point improvement in quality of life scores has previously been associated with a 6.9% reduction in early death and a 4.2% reduction in risk of hospitalization.