For five years, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine kept tabs on the activity levels of 6,000 women between the ages of 65 and 99. Wearing a device that tracked movement on their hips, the women went about normal life. Remarkably, women who managed to average just 30 minutes of light physical activity (dusting, washing dishes) each day dropped their risk of dying during the five-year period of the study by 12 percent. Women who got up to an hour of moderate activity (brisk walking, taking the stairs) lowered mortality risk three times as much—a whopping 39 percent.
“Every movement counts,” Andrea LaCroix, PhD, senior author of the study and professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego told ScienceDaily.com. “A lot of what we do on a daily basis is improving our health, such as walking to the mailbox, strolling around the neighborhood, folding clothes and straightening up the house. Activities like these account for more than 55 percent of how older individuals get their daily activity.”
In other words, you don’t need to train for triathlons to get the benefits of exercise. Even chores that require light to moderate activity can keep disease at bay, regardless of your weight, education, or socioeconomic status. “With the increasing baby boomer population in the United States, it is imperative that future health guidelines recommend light physical activity in addition to more strenuous activity,” said Dr. LaCroix. “When we get up from the couch and chair and move around, we are making good choices and contributing to our health.”