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The Results Are in: Exercise Increases Life Expectancy

Three long-term studies have recently concluded concerning the effects of exercise on increased life expectancy. The three most recently released studies took a long term look at the effects of exercise on healthy living. Each of these three studies enrolled thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people for years. The studies were undertaken to examine the effects of exercise in staving off the rising risk of dementia and other chronic illnesses during the aging process.  Although each study was independent and used different data points and metrics the conclusions were similar. They all pointed to a beneficial effect of regular exercise.  Other researchers used the release of the three studies to confirm their hypothesis that not only is regular exercise essential to good health, but the intensity and duration were defining characteristics. The studies centered on exercise and health. In that way these studies were looking at the benefit to the average person, not the committed bodybuilder or athlete.

The Neurology Studies

A study published on July 27, 2022, titled, Physical and Mental Activity, Disease Susceptibility, and Risk of Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study Based on UK Biobank recruited participants from 2006-2010. The focus was to ascertain the effects of activity on future dementia susceptibility.  The published conclusion stated, “Activity patterns more adherent to frequent vigorous and other exercises, housework-related activity, and friend/family visit were associated with a reduced risk of multiple types of dementia. Such associations are independent of disease susceptibility, highlighting the potential of these physical and mental activity patterns, as effective interventions, in the primary prevention of dementia.” The results are an excellent indicator that exercise plays a role in preventing dementia in old age groups.  The second recently published paper also focused on Neurology. It took a consensus of 38 other studies to compare the results on exercise and dementia. Using an analytic approach this study was titled, Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis and published on August 10, 2022.  Its conclusion also pointed towards the prevalent belief that exercise is intertwined with healthy aging. It did note that activity was not vigorous and did not go beyond “normal” daily activities. Although participants engaged in activity, dementia risk was not as greatly diminished as those who participated in an exercise routine. The third study was published in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport Volume 25, Issue 8, August 2022, Pages 667-672, titled Longitudinal associations of childhood fitness and obesity profiles with midlife cognitive function: an Australian cohort study. The study began in 1985 and tracked children into adulthood, its conclusion was “Strategies that improve low fitness and decrease obesity levels in childhood could contribute to improvements in cognitive performance in midlife.

Exercise is Fundamental

The three studies noted as well as others have all noted the importance of exercising throughout life. Those that have led a sedentary life who are ready to begin an exercise regimen should begin slowly. Unused muscles can be stretched, twisted and pulled making an exercise program difficult. It is important to know that when beginning an exercise routine muscles need proper hydration, a steady pace and recovery time.  A beneficial recovery time for sore muscles can include whirlpools and the latest in muscle recovery technology, The FIT Bodywrap Infrared Sauna  

FAQ about Exercise Increases Life Expectancy

1.Can exercise alone increase life expectancy, or are other lifestyle changes needed?

While exercise is significant, other factors like a balanced diet, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking also contribute substantially to increasing life expectancy.

2. Are there risks of exercising too much in the context of life expectancy?

Yes, excessive exercise without adequate rest and recovery can lead to injuries, burnout, and other health issues. It’s important to balance exercise with rest and listen to your body’s needs.

3. Does the impact of exercise on life expectancy differ by gender?

Generally, the benefits of exercise on life expectancy are similar for both genders. However, individual health conditions and fitness levels should guide the type and intensity of exercise.

4. What types of exercise are best for increasing life expectancy?

A combination of aerobic exercises (like walking, running, swimming), strength training, and flexibility exercises are ideal. Aerobic exercises improve heart health, strength training maintains muscle mass and bone density, and flexibility exercises improve balance and coordination.

5. How much exercise is needed to positively impact life expectancy?

The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. Incorporating muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week is also beneficial.

6. Can exercise increase life expectancy in older adults?

Yes, regular physical activity in older adults can reduce the risk of falls, improve mental health, and contribute to better physical health, thereby potentially increasing life expectancy even in later years.

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