Washington: Researchers have said that older people who undertake at least 25 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise everyday need fewer prescriptions and are less likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency.
The findings reinforce the need for exercise programmes to help older people stay active. It could also reduce reliance on NHS services and potentially lead to cost savings.
In the first study of its kind looking at this age group, researchers from the University of Bristol looked at data from 213 people whose average age was 78.
Those who carried out less than 25 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day - such as walking quickly, cycling or swimming - received 50 per cent more prescriptions over the following four to five years than those who were more active.
The study also found that being physically active reduced the risk of unplanned hospital admissions. Those who were in the most active third of the sample were on average achieving 39 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity and were at half the risk of emergency hospital admissions than those in the low active group.
Researchers measured physical activity using accelerometers - small gadgets that monitor all movement throughout the day - alongside elements of physical function including balance, leg strength and walking gait.
The findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.