A new study has shown that elderly people who exercise in old age can add years to their life, proving that it's never too late to keep fit. According to researchers at Oslo University Hospital, exercising can improve your life expectancy as much as giving up smoking.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study analysed the lifestyle and exercise habits of 5,700 men aged 68 - 77, and found that those who did three hours of exercise each week lived around five years longer than their sedentary counterparts.
The study authors say that both light and vigorous exercise extended life expectancy. Government advice in the UK suggests that the over-65s should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The study of Norwegian men found that those who did the equivalent of six, 30-minute sessions of any intensity exercise were 40% less likely to have died during the 11-year research period.
The report said: "Even when men were 73 years of age on average at start of follow-up, active persons had five years longer expected lifetime than the sedentary."
It added that physical activity was as "beneficial as smoking cessation" at reducing deaths. "Public health strategies in elderly men should include efforts to increase physical activity in line with efforts to reduce smoking behaviour."
The research did not take into account how active people had been earlier in their lives.
Meanwhile, the British Heart Foundation has issued a separate report warning that British people aren't getting enough exercise.
Julie Ward, from the charity, said: "Regular physical activity, whatever your age, is beneficial for your heart health and ultimately can help you live longer.
"However, our latest statistics show that nearly half of people in the UK do no moderate exercise whatsoever - a rate higher than many European countries.
"Our message is that every 10 minutes counts and that making simple, more active changes to your daily routine can set you on a path to improved heart health."
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