Study highlights the dangers of physical inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic among older adults

With measures implemented to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, physical inactivity could be a concern among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a new study, appearing in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, researchers at the University of Sao Paulo highlighted the dangers of physical inactivity as populations are spending more time indoors than ever before.

According to researchers, just one week of physical inactivity could increase the risk of sarcopenia and subsequent chronic conditions. Two weeks of inactivity was shown to reduce muscle strength by eight percent. A reduction of light to moderate exercise was also shown to increase blood sugar and inflammation.

The effects of isolation, particularly that experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, could prove to have lasting consequences on one’s physical health.

The following are recommendations of exercise for older adults in which may aid in improving muscle health and mobility, as highlighted in the findings.

  • Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate‐intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous‐intensity aerobic physical activity, per week. An equivalent combination of moderate‐ and vigorous‐intensity activity is recommended.
  • Aerobic activities should be performed in 10‐minute bouts (minimum duration).
  • For additional health benefits, weekly moderate‐ or vigorous‐intensity aerobic physical activity should be increased to a total of 300 and 150 minutes per week, respectively. Equivalent combinations of moderate‐ and vigorous‐intensity activity are recommended.
  • Older adults with mobility issues should focus on physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days a week.
  • Muscle‐strengthening activities involving major muscle groups should be performed on 2 or more days a week.
  • When recommendations cannot be met due to health conditions, older adults should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

The study, titled Risk of Increased Physical Inactivity During COVID ‐19 Outbreak in Older People: A Call for Actions, was led by researcher Hamilton Roschel.

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