Walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week is enough for older obese people to achieve moderate physical fitness that can help them live longer, a new study shows.
The study conducted by Steven N Blair at University of South Carolina included 2,603 people in their 60s and older.
All the participants received detailed health examinations, including fitness test, measurements of their body mass index (BMI), waist size and body fat prior to the study, the online edition of the health magazine WebMD reported.
Twenty percent of the participants who performed worst on the treadmill test were considered least fit. Those who could not spend more than 7-8 minutes on the treadmill fell in this category. For women it was five minutes.
Better fitness was associated with less likelihood of diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Though, being overweight and obese was not a sole indicator of death risk.
Among people who were fit, the survival rates were similar for normal weight, overweight, and obese people, the researchers said.
"People definitely don't need an excuse to gain weight but we have found that heavier and older people do not appear to be as sick," Blair said.
Staying fit is more important than losing fat, the report said.
Public health messages aimed at keeping older people healthy should focus more on physical activity including walking or engaging in similar activities and less on weight loss, according to the study appeared in the December 5 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association.