A recent study in the Journal Circulation demonstrates a high correlation between intense exercise and reduced death risk. The study published this fall was conducted on predominately Caucasian females in their early 70s using a walking program.
While prior studies have had to rely on self-reports, with the use of ever-evolving technology, the study used a triaxial accelerometer to specifically measure bouts of exercise to ensure compliance with the program’s recommended intensity. The accelerometer was able to measure movements in all 3 planes: sagittal, horizontal and transverse ensuring detection of even the smallest movements.
The 4-year study examined 17,708 women who were capable of walking without an assistive device in the community. After taking into account family history of cancer, smoking, and alcohol histories those women who completed the highest level of moderate – vigorous exercise (approximately 68 minutes/day) were shown to exhibits a 65% death risk reduction.
…the magnitude of the reduced risk of short-term death with recommended amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity can be seen to be as strong as not smoking, Dr. I-min Lee said.
So what does this mean for us as physical therapists? We do a really great job in aiding patients to return to function; however, sometimes we forget the long-term component of patient education in regard to cardiovascular exercise. Emphasizing to your patients the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, particularly moderate-vigorous physical activity, will not only allow them to be healthier, but just may save their life!