Exercise and longevity. How to stay active for a long, healthy life

What should we do to live a healthy life longer? Research shows that there are several lifestyle interventions that can effectively extend our lifespan and health. One of them is exercise, but what kind and in what combinations, and why does it help add years to our lives? Find out in our latest podcast episode.

It seems that since time immemorial, mankind has, metaphorically speaking, searched for the path that leads to the “Fountain of Youth”, that is, ways to ensure a longer and healthier life.

And while we still don’t have the benefit of “miracle” drugs or technologies that extend our lives beyond a hundred years, many recent studies support the idea that simple, affordable lifestyle changes can help us stay alive. stay healthy longer and reduce the risk of premature death.

The research is presented American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2023For example, he suggested that eight healthy habits can slow down biological aging by up to 6 years.

These habits are related to diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, maintaining good sleep hygiene, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, and, last but not least, staying physically active.

In our latest issue In conversation podcast, Medical news today Explores the connection between exercise and living long and healthy in dialogue with Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz and Dr. Edwina (Eddie) Brocklesby.


In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. del Pozo Cruz has conducted various studies examining the relationship between different forms of exercise and the risk of death from various causes.

Dr Brocklesby gained fame as the ‘Iron Gran’ because, at 72, she was the oldest British woman to complete an Ironman triathlon. He is also the founder and CEO of Silverfit, a non-profit organization that promotes lifelong fitness.

in a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine In August 2023, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and colleagues analyzed data from 500,705 participants who were followed for an average of 10 years to see how different forms of exercise were associated with a person’s risk of death.

The study looked at the effects of moderate aerobic physical activity, such as walking or light cycling, vigorous aerobic physical activity, such as jogging, and muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight lifting.

His findings showed that a balanced combination of all these forms of exercise was most effective in reducing mortality risk.

More specifically, about 75 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise plus more than 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, along with at least some strength training per week, was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

When it came to reducing the risk of death specifically related to cardiovascular disease, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and colleagues recommended a minimum of 150–225 minutes of moderate physical activity combined with about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise and two or more bouts of strength training. weekly sessions.

Dr. Brocklesby, who goes by “Eddie,” is himself an example of the importance of combining different forms of exercise. Indeed, training for and participating in a triathlon, a multi-sport endurance event in which participants compete in swimming, cycling and running, involves achieving a balanced “diet” of moderate and vigorous exercise, as well as strength training.

But what about people who aren’t nearly as athletic? What is the minimum “amount” of exercise that can help relieve some of the highest health-threatening conditions?

Dr. del Pozo Cruz and his team may also find the answer to this question. In December 2022, they published the results of the previous study European Heart Journal.

This research suggests that just 2 minutes of vigorous exercise per day can reduce the risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular events.

The researchers found that participants who never engaged in vigorous exercise had a 4% risk of dying within 5 years, but less than 10 minutes of vigorous activity per week cut that risk in half. Furthermore, their risk of death was halved for those who exercised at least 60 minutes per week.

In our podcast, Dr. del Pozo Cruz emphasized that almost any form of exercise is better than none, a point reinforced by a new study that claims that any activity is better for heart health than a sedentary lifestyle.

However, he also cautioned that physical activity associated with chores or work, as opposed to exercise in a recreational context, can sometimes do more harm than good.

His idea is further supported by recently published research that found a link between physically demanding occupations and an increased risk of cognitive impairment.

Some of the most common occupations associated with intense physical activity cited in this study were nursing and caregiving, retail, and farming, where individuals are on their feet a lot and often have to deal with stressful situations.

Thus, although all forms of physical exercise can be beneficial to health, strenuous or intense physical activity in the work environment can lead to the risk of various health conditions.

And even recreational exercise can affect physical health, such as joint integrity, especially later in life. In our podcast, both Dr. del Pozo Cruz and Eddie emphasized the importance of consulting with a trusted health care professional who can advise on the best forms of exercise to do on an individual basis.

To learn more about how and why different forms of exercise can promote longevity, and to hear the story of how Edwina became an Iron Gran, listen to our podcast episode in full below or on your preferred streaming platform.

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