According to a new study published in BMC Geriatrics, middle-aged and older individuals performing some form of physical activity have a significantly lower risk for long or frequent hospital admissions.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care and the Medical Research Council's Epidemiology Unit conducted a British prospective population-based cohort study of 25,639 men and women aged 40-79 years residing in Norfolk.
The findings showed that during the first 10 years, physically active individuals had a 25-27 per cent lower likelihood than inactive participants of having more than 20 hospital days or more than seven admissions annually, with comparable results over the next 10 years. Among participants with repeated measurements, those who were physically active or had increased their activity had a 34 per cent lower likelihood of spending 20 days in hospital. It is estimated that for every inactive person who initiates some exercise, the NHS could save around £247 per year.
Robert Luben, the study's lead author, said: "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."