News Release 

Being physically active can lower older adults' risk for dying

Data from new study supports what logic already tells us

American Geriatrics Society

For older adults, being physically active is an important part of overall good health. In fact, experts say that nine percent of all premature deaths are caused by not getting enough physical activity. Physical activity is known to reduce deaths from heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and mental illness.

A team of researchers looked more carefully at the relationship between death and physical exercise among older adults in Brazil (where the number of older adults grew 40 percent between 2002 and 2012). Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

They drew on information from the "COMO VAI?" (Consórcio de Mestrado Orientado para a Valorização da Atenção ao Idoso) study. During the study, from January to August 2014, researchers conducted home interviews with 1,451 adults older than 60. Of these, 971 participants were given wrist monitors to measure their physical activity. Researchers also asked participants about their smoking habits and how they would rate their health.

Additionally, researchers learned about the chronic health conditions participants said they had, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, Parkinson's disease, kidney failure, high cholesterol, depression, stroke, and cancer. The researchers then rated participants' ability to perform their normal daily activities, including bathing, dressing, getting from bed to chair, going to the bathroom, and feeding.

Not surprisingly, the researchers learned that people who had the lowest levels of physical activity had higher rates of death compared to people who had higher levels of activity.

The researchers concluded that their main findings suggest that low levels of physical activity are associated with higher risks of death, no matter what a person's level of health was. Overall, physical activity was important for avoiding early death in older men and women.

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This summary is from "Objectively measured physical activity reduces the risk of mortality among Brazilian older adults." It appears online ahead of print in the September 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are: Renata M. Bielemann, RD, PhD; Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD; Andréa D. Bertoldi, PhD; Elaine Tomasi, PhD; Flávio F. Demarco, DDS, PhD; Maria Cristina Gonzalez, MD, PhD; Pedro Augusto Crespo da Silva, MSc; Andrea Wendt, PhD; Inácio Crochemore Mohnsam da Silva, PhD; Soren Brage, PhD; Ulf Ekelund, PhD; and Michael Pratt, MD, PhD.

About the Health in Aging Foundation

This research summary was developed as a public education tool by the Health in Aging Foundation. The Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through HealthinAging.org. We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit http://www.HealthinAgingFoundation.org.

About the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Included in more than 9,000 library collections around the world, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) highlights emerging insights on principles of aging, approaches to older patients, geriatric syndromes, geriatric psychiatry, and geriatric diseases and disorders. First published in 1953, JAGS is now one of the oldest and most impactful publications on gerontology and geriatrics, according to ISI Journal Citation Reports®. Visit wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/JGS for more details.

About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has--for 75 years--worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.

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