Two and a half hours of moderate physical activity a week reduce mortality in women over 65 by 30%, but in physical activity there is a large gap between the two sexes and few exercise regularly.
"One over 65 out of three moves less than the recommended 150 minutes a week, one out of five does not exercise even for 30 minutes a week - explains Francesco Landi of the Agostino Gemelli IRCCS University Hospital Foundation in Rome - Over 75s have 30% less likely to be active than male peers: among women the idea of not being 'sporty types' is more widespread, double that of men, and this prevents many from engaging in physical exercise, with a gap between the two sexes that increases over the years".
Thus the Olympic champions Manuela Di Centa, cross-country skier, Elisa di Francisca, fencer, Antonella Palmisano, walker and Silvia Salis, hammer thrower and CONI vice president, who have made sport their life,
they are exceptional testimonials to underline the importance of physical activity also in the third and fourth age, to live longer and better.
The four athletes took part in the opening round table of the 67th National Congress of the Italian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (SIGG), on the Rome Campus from 30 November to 3 December, to reaffirm the importance of exercising for women at all ages but especially by the elderly.
"In older women - underlines Landi - there are also practical obstacles: many over 65 take care of grandchildren or other family members, half of them have just four hours of free time a week, or no more than 35 minutes a day for themselves. Thinking about tailor-made exercise programs for the third and fourth age, but also to support older women so that they can have time to devote to physical activity, is a fundamental investment in their health".
There are many possibilities to choose from, as demonstrated by the four sportswomen who have chosen to testify with their direct experience in favor of physical activity: from skiing to fencing, from walking to athletics, the disciplines in which to compete are many and for all tastes and ages.
"Choosing a sport and practicing it means extending your life: some time ago the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which followed over 8,500 men and women for 25 years, showed that playing tennis, for example, lengthens your life by just under 10 years, ride a bicycle for almost 4, swim or run for over 3. It is a question of opting for the most suitable activity for oneself and at every age one can find the right one or decline one's favorite sport based on one's characteristics and degree of physical fitness", concludes Landi.