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01.09.2019


Physical activity as a longevity drug | More is better

The best longevity drug we know is exercise, websites like ours have been telling you for years. This comparison is not entirely correct. After all, a drug has an optimal dosage. If you take more than this optimal amount, the positive effect of the drug decreases. With exercise, this optimum amount does not seem to be there. More exercise is better, epidemiologists at the University of Cambridge report in BMJ.

Study
The researchers analyzed the data of 14,599 men and women aged 40-79. De data were collected during the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. The study participants enrolled in the study in the period 1993-1997 and answered questions about their lifestyle.

The participants answered the same questions again in 2004. This allowed the researchers to determine whether the study participants had started to exercise more or less. The researchers then followed the study participants until 2016.

Results
To begin with, the investigation confirmed what we already know. Whether you are a man or a woman, slim or obese, old or young, sick or healthy, exercise reduces your risk of dying.


Physical activity as a longevity drug | More is better


Physical activity as a longevity drug | More is better


The recommended minimum amount of exercise is a brisk walk of half an hour a day, 5 days a week. The study participants who initially did not exercise at all, and gradually became more active over a 5-year period until they reached the minimum amount of physical activity, reduced their risk of death by 24 percent.


Physical activity as a longevity drug | More is better


This decrease was the same in all groups. The decrease was also present in people with cancer and with cardiovascular disease.

The prospects are even better for people who are already exercising relatively much, but are increasing their physical activity levels even more. They lower their risk of dying by 42 percent.

The figure below is simplified. Click on it for a full version.


Physical activity as a longevity drug | More is better


Conclusion
"These results are encouraging, not least for middle aged and older adults with existing cardiovascular disease and cancer, who can still gain substantial longevity benefits by becoming more active, lending further support to the broad public health benefits of physical activity", write the researchers.

"In addition to shifting the population towards meeting the minimum physical activity recommendations, public health efforts should also focus on the maintenance of physical activity levels, specifically preventing declines over mid to late life."

Source:
BMJ 2019;365:l2323.

More:
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Longevity


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