Do you live longer if you exercise?
While you've probably heard that exercise is beneficial for you a million times, fresh research on its far-reaching advantages is something that everyone in their forties or older needs to hear. The latest research indicates that exercise not only strengthens your heart and may help you lose weight, but it can also halt the aging process on a cellular level and perhaps add years to your life.
Consider the following: While federal guidelines now recommend at least 212 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week (or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous exercise), Harvard University researchers recently discovered that as little as 15 minutes of physical activity per day can increase your life span by three years.
Furthermore, according to a stunning 2018 JAMA Network Open study, not exercising increases your chance of early death more than cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even smoking.
The most recent research also provides us with our first insights into why physical activity is so crucial — and it looks that it can actually make your cells biologically younger.
Researchers from Brigham Young University examined DNA samples from nearly 6,000 adults. They evaluated the lengths of study participants' telomeres, which are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes that tend to shorten with age, and discovered that those who were more active had longer telomeres than those who were more sedentary. In fact, the exercisers were nearly nine years younger in terms of "biological age."
Another recent study discovered that men and women in their 70s who routinely exercise have the heart, lung, and muscular fitness of persons 30 years younger. "We were astonished," says Scott Trappe, director of Ball State University's Human Performance Laboratory and study author. "We assume you get fragile and weak as you age." We couldn't determine who was young and who was old just by looking at the muscle of older exercisers compared to younger ones."
While Trappe's study concentrated on men and women who had been exercising for decades, it is never too late to begin. According to research, even those in their 80s and 90s who begin exercising reap health and longevity benefits. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Stroke, those who got healthy later in life (ages 40 to 59) lowered their risk of a potentially fatal stroke in half, whereas those who were fit when younger but became unfit doubled their risk.
Not sure where to begin?
Everyone, regardless of age or current fitness ability, can get started.
Prioritize security measures first. Most healthy adults can walk and engage in other forms of light exercise without risk. However, if you have a history of heart disease or any other medical condition that can impair your exercise tolerance, consult with your doctor before starting or making modifications to an exercise plan.
Begin on a small scale. If you aim low, you'll be more likely to reach your goal.
- Start small, like walking for 10–20 minutes, three times a week. Add five minutes onto your walk time every week or two until you've reached your target of thirty minutes. Then, add a day every week or two until you're doing it for at least 150 minutes a week. You can gradually add more effort to your workouts over time. Always keep in mind that setting and achieving even modest objectives can have a profound impact on your motivation.
- Have no fear of fitness centers and exercising. Any progress is welcome and welcomed as a step in the right direction. Many people avoid going to the gym because they are afraid of what other people will think of them there because of their weight or lack of experience. Everyone started out as a complete workout novice at some point. Remember why you're doing this, and don't waste time on distractions.
- Think ahead. If you want to make a lasting change in your lifestyle, preparation is key to your success. Set some time each week to plan out your workouts in advance. Instead of saying, "I'll get to it if I have time," treat your exercise time like an appointment.