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Even Light Activity Can Boost Seniors' Health

Researchers suggest 300 minutes weekly of activities such as walking or gardening

TUESDAY, June 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Regular light exercise can be as good for seniors as moderate or vigorous exercise, according to a new study published in the May/June issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

For the study, researchers reviewed information from a U.S. national survey done between 2003 and 2006. They found that high amounts of low-intensity workouts provided significant benefits for people older than 65.

Light activity includes things such as walking, slow dancing, household chores, and leisurely sports such as table tennis. Seniors who did 300 minutes or more per week of light activity had lower values for body mass index, waist circumference, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein than their less active peers. The researchers also found that the people getting less than 300 minutes of light activity weekly had an 18 percent increased risk of chronic disease.

There are 168 hours in a week, the study's coauthor Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, pointed out in a university news release. That means 300 minutes is about 3 percent of that time, he noted. "You get a nice array of health benefits by doing five hours of light physical activity per week," Cardinal said. Light exercise tends to be more appealing to seniors and typically does not require a doctor's approval, he added.

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