Many types of leisure time activities may lower risk of death for older adults

Media Advisory

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

What

Older adults who participate weekly in many different types of leisure time activities, such as walking for exercise, jogging, swimming laps, or playing tennis, may have a lower risk of death from any cause, as well as death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a new study led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The findings suggest that it’s important for older adults to engage in leisure time activities that they enjoy and can sustain, because many types of these activities may lower the risk of death, the authors wrote.

The findings appear Aug. 24in JAMA Network Open.

Using data from 272,550 adults between ages 59 and 82 who had completed questionnaires about their leisure time activities as part of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, the researchers looked at whether participating in equivalent amounts of seven different exercise and recreational activities—including running , cycling, swimming, other aerobic exercise, racquet sports, golf, and walking for exercise — was associated with lowered risk of death.

The researchers found that achieving the recommended amount of physical activity per week through any combination of these activities was associated with a 13% lower risk of death from any cause compared with no participation. When they looked at the role of each activity individually, playing racquet sports was associated with a 16% reduction in risk and running with a 15% reduction. However, all activities were similarly associated with lower risks of death.

The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults engage in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, each week.

The levels of activity by the most active individuals (those who exceeded the recommended levels of physical activity) were associated with even greater reductions in the risk of death, but there were diminishing returns as activity levels increased. Even people who did some recreational activity, though less than the recommended amount, had a 5% reduction in risk of death than those who did not participate in any of the activities studied.

These activities were also associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Playing racquet sports was associated with the greatest reduction in risk of cardiovascular deaths (27% reduction), while running was associated with the greatest reduction in risk of cancer deaths (19% reduction).

Who

Eleanor L. Watts, D.Phil., MPH, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute

Study

“Associations of leisure time physical activity types and risks of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality among older adults” appears Aug. 24in JAMA Network Open.

About the National Cancer Institute (NCI): NCI leads the National Cancer Program and NIH’s efforts to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of people with cancer. NCI supports a wide range of cancer research and training extramurally through grants and contracts. NCI’s intramural research program conducts innovative, transdisciplinary basic, translational, clinical, and epidemiological research on the causes of cancer, avenues for prevention, risk prediction, early detection, and treatment, including research at the NIH Clinical Center—the world’s largest research hospital. Learn more about NCI’s intramural research from the Center for Cancer Research and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at cancer.gov or call NCI’s contact center at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

###

.

Leave a Comment