Physical activity and life expectancy
Many people often ask if there’s a link between physical activity and life expectancy. And according to research, the answer is, yes there is a connection. A recent study shows that getting and staying physically active helps reduce a person’s risk of developing conditions known as major mortality risk factors. The study found that respondents were less likely to be diagnosed with arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Further, respondents had a reduced likelihood of experiencing a stroke.
In short, the study examined cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) levels when participants engaged in physical activity and compared that figure with survival rates. The study included respondents from ages 18-80, and consistently across all age ranges, those individuals who regularly engaged in exercise were less likely to contract long-term medical conditions often linked with shortened lifespans. While exercise alone won’t guarantee a person will live a long life, assuming that the activity is safe and doesn’t pose any other known risks, the positive benefits can’t be ignored.
How much activity is enough?
Individual needs will vary from person to person. Most people should aim to achieve 150-300 minutes of moderate activity each week. 150 minutes per week might sound like a lot, but consider that even just engaging in 30 minutes of low impact exercise, 5 times per week, will meet the recommended minimum.
What kinds of activities are best?
When some people hear the phrase physical activity or exercise, high-intensity workouts like CrossFit or HIIT often come to mind. But if maintaining mobility and reducing physical discomfort are the goal, more gentle exercises are also acceptable. Consider taking a walk in the park or opting for a genuinely low-impact exercise like swimming. Swimming is especially ideal for older individuals as the natural buoyancy in the water places less strain on the joints. For example, when compared against people that don’t exercise, studies show swimmers have longer life expectancies.
Adjusting physical activity with age
While growing older doesn’t mean losing mobility, other factors such as bone density or even arthritis can make staying active more difficult. But rather than choosing to be homebound, seniors, in particular, should engage in gentle activities like walking, swimming, or even dancing to maintain mobility. Along with reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases, being physically active can boost mood and even serve as a way to make new friends.