Exercise in middle and older age significantly reduce future hospital usage

Men and women aged 40–79 are at significantly lower (25–27%) risk of long or frequent hospital admissions if they do some form of physical activity, a new study suggests.

A new study analyzed the relationship between regular reported exercise and subsequent admissions to the hospital. The results suggest that men and women aged 40–79 are at significantly lower (25–27%) risk of long or frequent hospital admissions if they do some form of physical activity.

The findings are based on a general British population cohort study of 25,639 men and women aged 40–79 living in Norfolk and recruited from general practices between 1993 and 1997.

In the first ten years, active participants were 25–27% less likely than inactive participants to have more than twenty hospital days or more than seven admissions per year with similar results over the subsequent ten years. Scientists also reported that in 9,827 study participants with repeated measurements, those who remained physically active or increased their activity were 34% less likely to spend twenty days in the hospital.

Lead author Robert Luben from the Institute of Public Health says“Our study provides some of the clearest evidence yet that small, feasible increases in usual physical activity substantially reduce the future hospital usage of middle-aged and older people, and would significantly ease pressure on the NHS.”

Leisure activity in both summer and winter was assessed from the number of hours per week spent cycling, attending keep fit classes or aerobics and swimming or jogging. Estimated average hours of leisure activity was calculated as the mean of summer and winter activities. Based on a score (validated using heart rate monitoring with individual calibration) combining leisure and occupational elements, individuals were categorized as “inactive,” “moderately inactive,” “moderately active,” and “active.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Usual physical activity and subsequent hospital usage over 20 years in a general population: the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. DOI: 10.1186/s12877-020-01573-0

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