We’ve heard the mantra over and over – to live longer, exercise more. But how much difference does exercise really make to your health if you are doing everything else right? Will a thirty minute walk today really buy more time down the road?
The answer to these questions, research tells us, is a definite yes.
Just this month, Swedish researchers published the results of years of study on this topic in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. In this research, they followed 792 men born in 1913 from ages 54 to 99. During periodic medical examinations, they evaluated fitness levels along with other commonly accepted risk factors for early death. These included smoking behavior and cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
They found that poor fitness was a strong predictor of early death, second only to smoking. In fact, they broke the group into three fitness levels, and found that each level of fitness reduced risk of death by a whopping 21 percent.
While this study doesn’t establish a cause and effect relationship between poor fitness and early death, the association is strong. In addition, it makes sense in context with other recent research published in The Lancet.
In this study, BMI – or Body Mass Index – was associated with mortality. BMI correlates weight with height to give a general estimate of body fat. A BMI in the range of 18.5-25.0 is considered normal. If you want to find out what your BMI is, plug in your numbers to this calculator. In The Lancet research, 239 studies of BMI were reviewed to correlated mortality with BMI levels. It was found that the further away BMI is from the 20.0-25.0 range, the higher the mortality.
Again, this study doesn’t establish a cause for mortality, but it does suggest a strong assocation between a normal body weight and longevity.
If you put these two studies together, it makes sense to use regular aerobic exercise to help maintain a normal body weight. This doesn’t mean you have to be an Olympic athlete. The following tips from the Cooper Aerobic Center will help you stay physically fit and keep your weight to at a normal level:
Participate in moderate physical activity…
Moderate activity may be a brisk walk or jog, playing a little soccer or basketball with your kids, jumping rope, or using the stairclimber at the gym. Anything to get moving and be active.
a cumulative 30 minutes per day…
Notice that word “cumulative.” That means the thirty minutes don’t have to happen all at once – you can take a brisk 15 minute walk in the morning and then run soccer drills with your 9-year-old for 15 minutes in the evening. There’s your 30 minutes. That’s not too hard at all!
five days per week…
Five days a week for 30 minutes gets you to the magic number of 150 minutes. This is where we start seeing many of the benefits of aerobic activity.
and make healthy food choices most of the time.
Choose lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains 80 percent of the time. That remaining 20 percent gives you the opportunity to enjoy that birthday cake or a weekly splurge on your favorite pizza.
Has it been a while since you’ve been physically active? Or do you just need help figuring out where to start? Get in touch with us and we can help you get moving toward a longer life.