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Exercise Pays Off Even in 70s and 80s, New Study Finds

Update Date: May 28, 2014 09:21 AM EDT

Older people who undertake at least 25 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise everyday need fewer prescriptions and are also less likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency, according to a new study. 

The new study reinforces the need for exercise programs to help older people stay active. According to the study, exercises can also reduce reliance on NHA services and eventually lead to cost savings. 

The study is first of its kind that considered a group of 213 people whose average age was 78. 

The study found that those who carried less than 25 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, i.e walking quickly, cycling or swimming, received 50 percent more prescriptions than those who were more active. 

The study also noted that being physically active reduced the risk of unplanned hospital admissions. 

 "We know that leading a physically active life has health benefits for all ages, but this study suggests there may also be economic benefits by reducing reliance on medication and preventing costly emergency hospital admissions. Our findings further support the need for greater availability of community-based programs to increase physical activity and prevent loss of lower limb function," said Dr Bethany Simmonds from Bristol University's Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, in the press release. 

Exercise should be targeted and tailored to those in their 70s and 80s, aiming to increase muscle strength, balance, coordination and aerobic fitness to maintain mobility and prevent falls and further disease, the press release added. 

"Until now, very little has been known about the value of physical activity in later life, particularly when people are in their 70s and 80s. This research underlines that keeping older people active brings a whole range of health benefits, as well as reducing reliance on the NHS and potentially leading to major cost savings," said co-author, Professor Ken Fox, also from the Bristol University's Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, in the press release.

The findings of the study are published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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