Amanda Davey

Boosting physical activity levels among elderly men is as good for health as giving up smoking, according to a 12-year study.

Just half an hour of exercise six days a week is linked to a 40% lower risk of death, say the Norwegian researchers.

These findings are irrespective of whether the activity is light or vigorous.

Their study of 6000 elderly men shows the more time spent doing vigorous exercise, the better.

The researchers report that men who regularly engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity live five years longer, on average, than those who are sedentary.

Factoring in that risk of death from heart disease or stroke rises with age, makes only a slight difference to the results.

“In elderly men, increased physical activity is as important for survival as quitting smoking,” they write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The differences in risk of death between those who are inactive and active are striking, even at the age of 73, they suggest.

Last Reviewed: 15/05/2015



I Holme, S A Anderssen. Increases in physical activity is as important as smoking cessation for reduction in total mortality in elderly men: 12 years of follow-up of the Oslo II study. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 14 May 2015 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094522.