Research: Exercise can extend life at old age

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A research work published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has reviewed that older men who engage in reasonable periods of exercise have the chances of living longer. The study which aimed to assess the activity levels of 1,655 men between the ages of 71 and 92 requested them to wear accelerometers for one week.

A closer study on 1,274 of the men who wore the accelerometers and did not have cardiovascular disease or heart failure reviewed that they had a daily average of 616 minutes sedentary time, 199 minutes of light activity and 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise.  

A follow up of these men for up to six years showed that 194 of the men died.

It further showed that each additional 30 minutes of sedentary time on a typical day, men were 17 percent more likely to die during the study. On the other hand an extra half hour of light activity was linked to 17% lower odds of death.

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Barbara Jefferis of University College London who led the study said, “For those who are able, it remains a good idea to aim for at least 150 minutes each week of moderate or more intense activity, that is, activities that get the heart beating faster.

Not surprisingly, researchers also found that men were about 40% less likely to die during the study when they got the minimum recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week, compared to men who didn’t achieve that amount.

One of the limitation researchers noted in the study was that accelerometers used in the study didn’t distinguish between standing time and sitting, which would likely have different health effects. One prominent fact remain that men who followed through with wearing the devices also tended to be younger and healthier than men who didn’t.

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Keith Diaz, a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City further supported the study saying it is an evidence that any exercise is better than none. He also acknowledged that more intense activity is better. He further added; “Exercise can also help memory and thinking by stimulating the release of chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells and the growth of new blood vessels in the brain.”

Other benefits of regular exercise which Diaz enumerated include: lowering the blood pressure, sugar levels, weight, triglycerides, and unhealthy LDL cholesterol; all of which can improve one’s heart’s health and, in turn, life.

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