Active older adults have comparatively better physical and mental health

November 2, 2020

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are nearly 16.9 million cancer survivors in the US today; they are also part of a rapidly aging population. A recent study by the ACS has found that high physical activity and lower sitting time amongst these older cancer survivors and older adults, in general, bodes well for their overall physical and mental health.

For this study, ACS investigators led by Dr. Erika Rees-Punia analysed self-reported aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities, sitting time, and mental and physical health among nearly 78,000 participants (average age 78 years) in the ACS’s Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Participants included older cancer survivors up to 10 years post-diagnosis, as well as cancer-free adults.

The investigators found that regardless of cancer history, the differences in global mental and physical health between the most and least active, and the least and most sedentary, were clinically meaningful: higher amounts of regular moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) and lower duration of sedentary time was a reasonable non-pharmacologic strategy to improve quality of life in older men and women, with or without a prior cancer diagnosis.

As being physically active is related to several health benefits, recently updated ACS physical activity guidelines recommend that older adults get around 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity through the week, and to limit sedentary behaviours such as screen-based entertainment.

“The findings reinforce the importance of moving more and sitting less for both physical and mental health, no matter your age or history of cancer,” said Rees-Punia. “This is especially relevant now as so many of us may be staying home to avoid COVID-19 exposure, and may be feeling a little isolated or down – a simple walk or other physical activity that you enjoy will be good for your mind and body.”

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Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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