Walking for 25 minutes every day in hospital is enough to counter the problems that bedrest can cause for older patients, a study suggests.
Even those in-patients who are mobile can spend the majority of time in bed – sometimes because they fear missing out on medics’ visits.
But inactivity during such spells can lead to a post-hospital syndrome – a time of vulnerability following discharge from the ward that is associated with general physical decline.
Researchers said it may lead to re-admission, disability, placement in a nursing home, other illnesses – and even death.
Their study suggests that even slow walking for 25 minutes daily while in hospital can fight problems caused by patients’ bedrest.
The optimal amount of walking around hospitals is at least 50 minutes each day, according to the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
READ MORE: Just three seconds of exercise a day can boost your health, study shows
The authors said around 40 minutes of a mixture of physical activity – such as 20 minutes working with resistance bands and 20 minutes of aerobic activity – can also help.
The study, led by academics from Spain, can you take two paracetamol and two ibuprofen together involved 3,842 people who had taken part in 19 different studies.
After pooling the findings, the authors found that ambulation – the ability to walk without the need for assistance – was deemed “the most efficient way” for mobile patients to counter effects of bedrest.
The researchers wrote: “As little as 25min/day of slow-paced walking is sufficient to improve functional capacity and minimise adverse events in this population.”
They also discovered that patients who had managed to stay active during their stays in hospital were less likely to suffer “adverse events” once they had been discharged.
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The authors argued that physical activity ought to become a “core part” of the daily routine for older adults kept in hospital.
They added: “Health care practitioners in hospital settings may capitalise on the information provided to improve mobility and health outcomes of hospitalised older adults.” Meanwhile, a separate study published in the journal BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care found that peppermint oil aromatherapy may ease pain in patients following open-heart surgery.
A group of 32 people received seven sessions with the herbal product over two days while another 32 had distilled water.
The group who received the peppermint oil reported lower scores for pain.
They also needed fewer pain medications and reported better sleep.
The Iranian researchers wrote: “It can be concluded that this herbal product can be safely used as a complementary treatment in relieving pain and making patients comfortable after heart surgery.”
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