Build a Longer Life
A Statistical LookOnce you realize that exercise strengthens nearly every body system, it stands to reason that exercisers have a better chance of surviving longer. In studies comparing fitness levels of adults, the ones with the best exercise habits live longer, even after the results are adjusted to account for different ages and gender. READ MORE
A large Stanford University study assessed the fitness of 4,384 Americans, middle-aged and older. According to the results, these people were divided into five groups, from most physically fit to least physically fit. The entire group was monitored for nearly nine years. By the end of that time, only 6% of those in the top fitness group had died. About 25% of the least fit group had passed away. The results were adjusted for such factors as age, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Fitness was the best predictor of survival. The results also supported the notion that you don't have to be Superman or Superwoman to live longer. Even the fourth-fittest of the five groups had much better survival rate than the lowest group. About 13% of them died during the study.
Another study followed men and tracked their fitness and longevity over more than 22 years. This Harvard study found that not only did those who exercised live longer, the men who participated in the most vigorous physical activities outlived their peers who engaged in less vigorous exercise. All exercisers enjoyed better health and longevity than non-exercisers, but the men who really poured it on lived longest of all. LESS
Tales of the TelomeresAt the very ends of each chromosome is a zone called the telomere. It has been likened to the tip of a shoelace, keeping the end material from unraveling. Each time a cell divides, the telomere becomes a bit shorter, which means that as we age the telomeres are fraying. In recent years, researchers have found that people under extraordinary stress tend to have shortened telomeres, a sign that stress prematurely ages our cells. Some have begun investigating whether exercise could be a remedy to this stress effect. READ MORE
Award-winning researchers at the University of California San Francisco are delving into many mysteries of telomeres. Having already established that psychological stress was associated with shorter telomere length, they decided to investigate why some people under great stress do not seem to have shorter telomeres. Through analyzing the telomeres in immune cells from 63 women, they found that vigorous physical activity was associated with normal telomere length in those under great stress. In fact, the non-exercisers showed a 15-fold increase in the odds of having short telomeres for every point of increase on a stress scale, compared with the exercisers.
In another study, this one conducted at the University of Maryland, researchers also saw that exercise had a protective effect on immune cell telomere length. Among these subjects, those who had moderate levels of physical activity showed a greater protective effect than the subjects with either low or high levels of exercise. LESS
Quality of LifeLiving longer is a great bonus of exercise. That is, if you actually enjoy the extra years that you earn by sweating it out. Survival is the baseline for benefitting from exercise. Living the extra years free of chronic disease, mental or mood disorders, or other complications is the best outcome of all. READ MORE
A long-running women's health study at Harvard, the Nurses' Health Study, follows more than 13,000 participants. Many aspects of these women's lives and health are monitored and analyzed. When researchers compared the effects of exercise on these research subjects, they did not merely look at who lived the longest. Instead, they created a profile of “successful survivors,” those who lived beyond age 70 without developing cognitive, physical or mental health complications, or any major chronic diseases. Women who got the most exercise at age 60 were almost twice as likely to fall into the successful survivor category as the women who got the least exercise. The successful survivors reported getting exercise equivalent to five or six hours of brisk walking per week.
The circulatory benefits and neurotransmitter boosts resulting from exercise head off strokes, dementia, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular ills and more. The right balance of aerobic and anaerobic exercise can add rich, enjoyable years to your life. LESS