Study finds: Moderate exercise effective in keeping older adults healthy

While the health benefits of regular physical activity are well known, the intensity of said exercise – moderate or high-intensity ­­– has been a hotly debated topic.

However, when it comes to the risk of death among older adults, a new study by Norwegian and Australian scientists published in The BMJ has found that exercise intensity appears to make no difference.

The trial involved 1,567 participants (790 women and 777 men) living in Trondheim, Norway, with an average age of 73 years. In total, 87.5% of participants reported overall good health and 80% reported a medium or high level of physical activity at the start of the trial.

Of these 1,567 participants, 400 were assigned to two weekly sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), 387 were assigned to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), and 780 to follow the Norwegian guidelines for physical activity (control group), all for five years.

After five years, the overall mortality rate was 4.6% (72 participants).

The researchers found no difference in all-cause mortality between the control group (4.7%, 37 participants) and combined HIIT and MICT group (4.5%, 35 participants).

They also found no differences in cardiovascular disease or cancer between the control group and the combined HIIT and MICT group.

The researchers conclude: “This study suggests that combined MICT and HIIT has no effect on all-cause mortality compared with recommended physical activity levels.”

So, perhaps particularly for those who find it tricky implementing specific HIIT training sessions, the message of ensuring consistency and adhering to the physical activity guidelines for health may be a better alternative in ensuring the health of older adults.

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