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Comment & Response
November 2015

Physical Activity and Successful Aging—Reply: Even a Little Is Good

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  • 2Prevention Research Collaboration, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(11):1863-1864. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4747

In Reply The response from Hupin and colleagues to our recent article1 in JAMA Internal Medicine underlines the interest in our findings and their potential implications on future physical activity guidelines. Unfortunately, it also seems to underline the common misinterpretation of our research findings, which is that we would like to encourage older adults to abandon moderate physical activity and start running and sweating.2 A key finding in our article was that, similar to other studies, we found the total volume of physical activity to be a strong predictor of mortality and that even low volumes of activity significantly reduce risk of mortality, which supports the argument by Hupin and colleagues that even a little activity is better than none. The more novel finding of our study was that, independent of the amount of physical activity, engaging in any vigorous activity added further protection against all-cause mortality risk. Our findings are in line with other epidemiological and experimental studies that found that higher proportions of vigorous activity have multiple health benefits,3 including prevention of functional decline.4 Functional limitations can make vigorous activity difficult or impossible. However, as we argued previously,4 for middle-aged and older adults who are able to engage in vigorous physical activity, it might be important to promote vigorous activity for maintaining physical function, independence, and successful aging.

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