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Any Type of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Tied to Lower Mortality Risk

However, diminishing returns seen for high levels across leisure activities for older adults

FRIDAY, Aug. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Being physically active through participation in any type of leisure-time activity is associated with lower mortality risks for older adults, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in JAMA Network Open.

Eleanor L. Watts, D.Phil., from the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues assessed whether different leisure-time physical activity types are differentially associated with mortality risk among older adults. The analysis included 272,550 participants (mean age, 70.5 years at baseline) in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study with a mean 12.4 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that 7.5 to <15 metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours per week of racquet sports (hazard ratio [HR], 0.84) and running (HR, 0.85) were associated with the greatest relative risk reductions for all-cause mortality, followed by walking for exercise (HR, 0.91), other aerobic activity (HR, 0.93), golf (HR, 0.93), swimming (HR, 0.95), and cycling (HR, 0.97). There was a curvilinear dose-response association with mortality risk, with low MET hours per week of physical activity for any given activity type associated with a large reduction in mortality risk, but with diminishing returns for each subsequent increment in activity. Findings were similar for cardiovascular and cancer-related mortality.

“Finding an activity that older, inactive individuals enjoy (and so may sustain) is likely of a greater benefit than choosing a particular activity based on the differences between risk estimates reported,” the authors write.

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