Health watch: Exercise best medicine for older women

Sydney: For women over age 50, daily exercise can be prescribed as medicine to reduce the risk of death, research says.

According to Australian researchers, in addition to conventional treatments for physical and mental health, doctors should prescribe tailored, moderate to high intensity exercise programmes for older women. "When once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, research is now telling us that older women should be doing at least 30-45 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise five times a week," explained professor Debra Anderson from Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Anderson said studies had shown that high intensity exercise over a sedentary lifestyle significantly reduced the risk of death."Older adults who undertake regular physical activity also report significantly less disability, better physical function and that is regardless of their body mass," she noted. The most active women are more likely to survive than the least physically active women. The high-intensity exercise is not only good for physical health but also brain health. "Doctors should develop exercise programmes that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities," Anderson concluded in a paper published in the international journal Maturitas.

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