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Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092814
  • Original article

150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week predicts survival and successful ageing: a population-based 11-year longitudinal study of 12 201 older Australian men

  1. Leon Flicker2,7,11
  1. 1School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  2. 2WA Centre for Health & Ageing, Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Australia
  4. 4Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  5. 5Aspetar: Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  6. 6Centre for Hip Health & Mobility, Vancouver Hospital, Vancouver, Canada
  7. 7School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  8. 8Department of Neurology, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Australia
  9. 9Department of Endocrinology, Fremantle Hospital, Fremantle, Australia
  10. 10Queensland Research Centre for Peripheral Vascular Disease, School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
  11. 11Department of Geriatric Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Osvaldo P Almeida, School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences (M573), University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Perth, WA 6009, Australia; osvaldo.almeida{at}uwa.edu.au
  • Accepted 12 August 2013
  • Published Online First 3 September 2013

Abstract

Background Physical activity has been associated with improved survival, but it is unclear whether this increase in longevity is accompanied by preserved mental and physical functioning, also known as healthy ageing. We designed this study to determine whether physical activity is associated with healthy ageing in later life.

Methods We recruited a community-representative sample of 12 201 men aged 65–83 years and followed them for 10–13 years. We assessed physical activity at the beginning and the end of the follow-up period. Participants who reported 150 min or more of vigorous physical activity per week were considered physically active. We monitored survival during the follow-up period and, at study exit, assessed the mood, cognition and functional status of survivors. Healthy ageing was defined as being alive at the end of follow-up and having a Patient Health Questionnaire score <10, Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status score >27, and no major difficulty in any instrumental or basic activity of daily living. Cox regression and general linear models were used to estimate HR of death and risk ratio (RR) of healthy ageing. Analyses were adjusted for age, education, marital status, smoking, body mass index and history of hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Results Two thousand and fifty-eight (16.9%) participants were physically active at study entry. Active men had lower HR of death over 10–13 years than physically inactive men (HR=0.74, 95% CI=0.68 to 0.81). Among survivors, completion of the follow-up assessment was higher in the physically active than inactive group (risk ratio, RR=1.18, 95% CI=1.08 to 1.30). Physically active men had greater chance of fulfilling criteria for healthy ageing than inactive men (RR=1.35, 95% CI=1.19 to 1.53). Men who were physically active at the baseline and follow-up assessments had the highest chance of healthy ageing compared with inactive men (RR=1.59, 95% CI=1.36 to 1.86).

Conclusions Sustained physical activity is associated with improved survival and healthy ageing in older men. Vigorous physical activity seems to promote healthy ageing and should be encouraged when safe and feasible.

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