Posted on Oct 20, 2020, 5 p.m.
According to a study published in the journal CANCER from the American Cancer Society, older adults with higher levels of physical activity and lower amounts of sitting time have better overall physical and mental health. Findings suggest that higher amounts of regular moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity and lower duration of sedentary time is associated with higher global mental and physical health for older cancer survivors and in general older adults.
There are some 16.9 million cancer survivors within America alone, and with a rapidly ageing population, there is a clear need to identify strategies that are associated with healthy ageing and improving the quality of life for ageing cancer survivors. Being physically active has been shown to be related to several health benefits, this study analyzed self-reported aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities, sitting time, as well as mental and physical health among close to 78,000 participants in the ACS’s Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort with an average age of 78 years old, including cancer survivors up to 10 years post-diagnosis and cancer-free adults.
Regardless of cancer history, the researchers found that the differences in global mental and physical health between the most/least active and the most/least sedentary were clinically meaningful. Findings provide evidence for the importance of engaging in regular moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity and decreasing the duration of sitting time as a reasonable non-pharmacologic strategy to improve the quality of life in older populations with/without a prior cancer diagnosis.
The recently published American Cancer Society physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout each week. The ACS guidelines also recommend limiting sedentary behaviours such as long periods of sitting and 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. This is especially relevant now as so many of us, particularly cancer survivors, 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 may be good for your mind and body,” said Dr. Eriks Rees-Punia, ACS investigator
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