If just thinking about stepping into the gym leaves you feeling tired, take heart. Researchers now believe that as little as 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day could be enough to reap major benefits.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control recommend older adults get in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or just 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. While that equates to just 15 to 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, many older adults aren't doing even that.
French researchers set out to see what benefits even small increments of exercise can have on the older population.
"Age is not an excuse to do no exercise," study author David Hupin, of the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, said in a release. "It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment."
Researchers followed two sets of adults for over a decade -- a French cohort of over 1,000 people aged 65 and an international database of over 122,000 people aged 60. People were categorized as having low, medium or high physical activity, or no activity at all.
"We found that the low level of activity, which is half the recommended amount, was associated with a 22 percent reduced risk of death in older adults compared with those who were inactive," said Dr Hupin. "This level of activity equates to a 15-minute brisk walk each day."
Every activity level, above inactive, had a lower risk of death than those with lower levels of exercise.
The "dose response" relationship, researchers say, shows the benefits of beginning or continuing any physical activity, and then building upon it.
"We think that older adults should progressively increase physical activity in their daily lives rather than dramatically changing their habits to meet recommendations," Hupin said. "Small increases in physical activity may enable some older adults to incorporate more moderate activity and get closer to the recommended 150 minutes per week."
Countless research has highlighted the benefits of simply walking for your health. Some studies have said simply taking brisk walks daily can add up to seven years to your life, while others have said staying active can help you stay mobile into your advanced years.
Hear that gym avoiders, you don't have to spend hours at the gym. You just need a good pair of walking shoes.