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Older adults who participate in moderate physical activity have a significantly lower risk of long or frequent hospital admissions, according to a study published Wednesday in BMC Geriatrics.

Investigators examined data for more than 25,000 adults ages 40 to 79. Inactive study participants were hospitalized four more days over a decade than their peers who engaged in at least some physical activity, reported lead author Robert Luben from the University of Cambridge Institute of Public Health.

In the study’s first decade, moderately active participants were up to 27% less likely to have more than seven hospital admissions per year than the inactive cohort. Time spent in the hospital was also lower in the active group. Similar results were observed 10 years later when the participants were 50-to-90 years old. The findings were no different whether activities were work or leisure-related.

In related exercise news, researchers have found that higher exercise intensity can produce longer-lasting results.

Female participants with an average age of 80 showed greater body composition and functional performance with eight weeks of high intensity interval training than peers who participated in moderate intensity interval training or moderate intensity continuous training, the researchers reported.

The HIIT group was also the only one to sustain their improvements in a two-to-four-week detraining period. 

“This suggests that the intensity of physical exercise is an important factor to consider when prescribing exercise to the elderly,” the researchers concluded.

Full findings were published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.