Daily life movement encompasses activities occurring when standing and walking within a room or patio, such as when getting dressed, preparing meals or gardening.
As part of the Women's Health Initiative Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health study, researchers measured the physical activity of nearly 5,416 American women, who were aged 63 to 97 and who did not have heart disease at the start of the study. Participants wore a research-grade accelerometer for up to seven days to get accurate measures of how much time they spent moving and, importantly, the types of common daily life behaviours that result in movement and are not often included in prior studies of light and moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.
Those prior studies typically focused on the intensity and duration of activities like running and brisk walking while the current study measured smaller movements at varying intensity during activities like cooking. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death among both women and men in the United States with rates highest in adults aged 65 or older. In this study, 616 women were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, 268 with coronary heart disease, 253 had a stroke, and 331 died of cardiovascular disease. "Much of the movement engaged in by older adults is associated with daily life tasks, but it may not be considered physical activity.
Understanding the benefits of daily life movement and adding this to physical activity guidelines may encourage more movement," said senior author Andrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH, Distinguished Professor and chief of the Division of Epidemiology at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health.