In a new study, researchers found that men and women aged 40-79 are at much lower (25-27%) risk of long or frequent hospital admissions if they do some form of physical activity.
Inactive people in the study spent over 4 days more in hospital over the next ten years than those who did at least some physical activity, whether for work or leisure.
And similar results were observed 10 years later when the same participants were 50-90 years old.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Cambridge.
The study is 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.
The researchers found that in the first ten years active participants were 25-27% less likely than inactive participants to have more than 20 hospital days or more than 7 admissions per year with similar results over the subsequent ten years.
They 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 20 days in the hospital.
The study is one of relatively few to examine the physical activity (both occupational and leisure-time) of middle-aged and older men and women and their subsequent healthcare use.
While previous studies have suggested that pre-admission physical activity programs may lower the duration of hospital stay, these are short term.
But these new findings indicate that usual physical activity patterns in the general population predict hospital usage over the next two decades.
The researchers acknowledge that participants may be physically inactive because of known or preclinical illness which may also predispose them to increased later hospitalization.
But sensitivity analyses excluding those with a self-reported chronic disease at baseline (heart attack, stroke, or cancer), and excluding hospital admissions occurring in the first five years of follow-up, did not differ materially from the main findings.
The lead author of the study is Robert Luben from the Institute of Public Health.
The study is published in BMC Geriatrics.
Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.