Daily Exercise Increases Lifespan by at Least Five Years
Despite clear evidence over the years that exercise is beneficial, there are still the naysayers. Some claim that exercise is too harsh on the body, especially during ones older years. Others say it doesn’t make any difference.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Numerous studies have shown over the years that exercise can reduce the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. But these studies might also have been confused with general lifestyle issues, as many who exercise regularly also eat better.
Teasing out the difference between causes has been refined over the years among scientific research. Plus we can now compare genetic differences such as DNA damage.
Exercise reduces mortality by 40 percent
In a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo tested over 20,000 people who were in their 70s. For twelve years, they followed 14,846 men from 1972 and then another 5,738 men from 2000. The men were in their 70s during the study period.
The study compared men who were sedentary with those who exercised. The exercise ranged from moderate to intense.
During the twelve-year study periods, 2,154 of the subjects passed away.
The researchers found that regardless of whether the exercise was moderate or intense, it decreased the risk of dying. Their statistical analysis found that exercising an average of 30 minutes a day for six days a week will decrease the risk of dying in the 70s by 40 percent, and will increase the average lifespan by five years.
The researchers found that this reduced risk of dying and lengthened lifespan was comparable to the difference between smoking and non-smoking.
In other words, the improvement in lifespan is doubled for nonsmokers who exercise compared to smokers – by a full ten years on average.
Of course this twelve-year study indicates that a lifetime of exercise could provide even greater benefit in terms of lengthening the life of the body.
Exercise reduces DNA damage
Sure, most will say this is all about the heart. When the heart gets pumping more, it will stay stronger. Yes, that’s true. But there is more to it than this.
One of the central means of this increase in lifespan is because exercise reduces DNA damage.
Researchers from Portugal’s University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro studied the effects of exercise with 57 healthy men who were between 40 years old and 74 years old. The researchers divided the men into two groups. For four months, one group underwent physical exercise training and the other group did not do any specific exercise.
The training consisted of alternating interval training and continuous exercise. The protocol included 5 minutes of warm-up with 50 percent of maximum heart rate. Then 20 minutes of continuous exercise at 70 percent of maximum heart rate. This was followed by 12 3-minute internal at 90 percent maximum heart rate with 3-minutes of recovery in between. The session was completed with a 5-minute cool-down. The whole routine totaled 54 minutes of exercise per day.
The researchers found that the group that underwent the training had a significant drop in strand breaks of DNA.
When DNA strands break, this shortens the life of the cells. Greater DNA strand breakage is also tied to telomere shortening. Both have been found associated with a shorter lifespan.
Exercise reduces free radicals
The researchers also found the exercise group had significantly greater antioxidant status in the bloodstream. They also had a decrease in lipid peroxidation.
Greater antioxidant status also reduces the risk of death. This is because antioxidants – whether produced by the liver or from the diet – neutralize free radicals. Free radicals have been implicated in numerous inflammatory and degenerative diseases including dementia, heart disease, cancer and others.
One of the more important types of free radicals is formed from a process called lipid peroxidation. This is when fats become oxidized and turn into free radicals. Free radical fats damage our blood vessels, causing hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.
It’s never too late to start
For those who haven’t had a history of exercise, it is never too late to start a good exercise plan.
Such a notion was tested by researchers from Madrid’s Carlos III Health Institute. The researchers tested 26 men with cardiovascular disease with an average age in the mid-50s. They tested the men and then put them through a two month exercise regimen and then tested them again.
The researchers found their exercise program reduced the men’s lipid peroxidation and increased good cholesterol. They also found the men had significantly lower blood pressure and other metabolic improvements.
And that’s only after two months of regular exercise. Just think of what a few years of regular exercise will do.
Interval training with endurance
The combination of interval training and continuous exercise has been shown in other studies to result in significantly better results than continuous exercise alone. This kind of protocol can be done with virtually any type exercise. Intervals can consist of running, biking, swimming or other exercises at a face pace, followed by a short rest.
Even better are sports that provide the combination of interval and continuous exercise automatically. These include sports like basketball, squash, racketball, soccer/football and surfing.
Wanna keep the body healthy for awhile longer? Simple: Start a regular exercise schedule.
Holme I, Anderssen SA. Increases in physical activity is as important as smoking cessation for reduction in total mortality in elderly men: 12 years of follow-up of the Oslo II study. Br J Sports Med. 2015 Jun;49(11):743-8. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094522.
Sari-Sarraf V, Aliasgarzadeh A, Naderali MM, Esmaeili H, Naderali EK. A combined continuous and interval aerobic training improves metabolic syndrome risk factors in men. Int J Gen Med. 2015 May 21;8:203-10. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S81938.
Soares JP, Silva AM, Oliveira MM, Peixoto F, Gaivão I, Mota MP. Effects of combined physical exercise training on DNA damage and repair capacity: role of oxidative stress changes. Age (Dordr). 2015 Jun;37(3):9799. doi: 10.1007/s11357-015-9799-4.
Roca-Rodríguez MD, Garrido-Sánchez L, García-Almeida JM, Ruiz-Nava J, Alcaide-Torres J, Gómez-González A, Montiel-Trujillo A, Tinahones-Madueño F. EFFECTS OF EXERCISE ON INFLAMMATION IN CARDIAC REHABILITATION. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Jun 1;31(n06):2633-2640.