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It isn’t news to anyone anymore that aerobic (cardio) exercise is good for you.
It helps control blood pressure and promote a healthy heart.
It helps build up the brain’s hippocampus, thus preserving memory as we age.
It even helps to reverse fatty liver disease, which in turn can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Some is better than none
Seniors are at higher risk from complications arising from a flu infection. Often if turns to pneumonia and older adults are nearly five times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting pneumonia. Death rates from the illness can exceed 50 percent depending on underlying health conditions.
But 20 years of data has shown that, with just a few minutes of exercise a week, we can cut that risk of death from flu and pneumonia significantly…
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas followed the exercise habits of 577,909 adults, aged 18 and older, in the United States for two decades.
What they found is good news for the majority of us who can’t make it to the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), or even to 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activities.
In fact, their data showed that getting in as little as ten minutes of cardio activity a week — or as much as 150 minutes a week — can drop the risk of dying from flu or pneumonia by 21 percent!
In other words, some is better than none to help you avoid the worst of flu or pneumonia.
But their data also showed that not exercising at all will leave you right where you started.
Now, this doesn’t mean if you’re an exercise fanatic that you can’t get even better odds…
In fact, they found that people who logged in as much as 150-300 and 301-600 minutes a week of MVPA saw their risk for flu death reduced by 41 percent and 50 percent!
How to get more METS into your life
Exercise experts measure activity in metabolic equivalents or METs. One MET is defined as the energy it takes to sit quietly.
Moderate-intensity activities clock in at 3 to 6 METs, meaning they get you moving enough to burn three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly.
Some examples of moderate-intensity activities are:
- Walking briskly (4 mph)
- Walking up and down stairs
- Heavy cleaning (washing windows, vacuuming, mopping)
- Biking (10-12 mph)
Vigorous-intensity activities that can burn at least 6 METs include hiking, jogging at 6 mph, shoveling, biking at 14-16 mph, and playing a game of basketball or soccer.
But remember, all you have to do is choose the level of exercise you’re comfortable with and do it for a minimum of 10 minutes every day to begin lowering your risk of death from flu and pneumonia.
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Leisure-time physical activity and mortality from influenza and pneumonia: a cohort study of 577 909 US adults — British Journal of Sports Medicine
Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity — Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health