You don’t have to break a sweat to reap the health benefits of physical activity, according to new research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In a study of women age 65 and older, just 30 minutes a day of light exercise—like running errands and cleaning the house—was linked to a lower risk of death.
Moderate-intensity exercise, like leisurely bike riding or brisk walking, was associated with an even greater reduction in risk. The authors say that improving doing more light and moderate physical activity could be almost as effective as rigorous exercise at preventing disease and prolonging life. “The paradigm needs to shift when we think about being active,” says senior author Andrea LaCroix, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego.
For the study, LaCroix and her colleagues asked 6,000 women, ages 65 to 99, to wear activity-tracking accelerometers for seven days as they went about their daily activities. The women were then followed for an average of three years.