How to Stay Active for a Long, Healthy Life

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

Apparently since time immemorial, humanity has been searching, metaphorically speaking, for the path that leads to the “Fountain of Youth”, that is, the means to guarantee a longer and healthier life.

And although we don’t yet have “miracle” drugs or technologies to extend our lifespans well beyond a hundred years, many recent studies have provided strong evidence to support the idea that Simple, achievable lifestyle changes can help us stay alive. healthy for longer and reduce our risk of premature death.

Research presented at American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2023for example, suggested that eight healthy habits can slow biological aging by up to 6 years.

These habits are related to diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, maintaining good sleep hygiene, managing cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure and, which is just as important, maintaining physical activity.

In the last episode of our In conversation podcast, Medical news today explores the connection between exercise and a long, healthy life, in dialogue with Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz and Dr. Edwina (Eddie) Brocklesby.

Dr del Pozo Cruz is a Senior Researcher in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Cádiz in Spain and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Sports Sciences and Clinical Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark.

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

Dr Brocklesby became famous under the nickname ‘Iron Gran’ because at the age of 72 she was the oldest British woman to complete an Ironman triathlon. She is also the founder and CEO of Silverfit, a non-profit organization promoting 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 followed for a median of 10 years to see how different forms of exercise were linked to a person’s mortality risk.

The study looked at the effect of moderate aerobic physical activity, such as gentle walking or cycling, vigorous aerobic physical activity, such as running, and muscle-strengthening activity, such as weightlifting.

Its results indicated that a balanced combination of all these forms of exercise was most effective in reducing mortality risk.

Specifically, approximately 75 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, plus more than 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, as well as at least a few strength training sessions per week were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

When it came to reducing the risk of death related specifically to cardiovascular disease, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and colleagues suggested combining a minimum of 150 to 225 minutes of moderate physical activity with about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. and two or more strength workouts. sessions per week.

Dr Brocklesby, nicknamed “Eddie”, is herself an example of the importance of combining different forms of exercise. Indeed, training for and participating in a triathlon – which is a multi-sport endurance race where participants compete in swimming, cycling and running – involves following a balanced “diet” consisting of moderate exercise. and vigorous, as well as bodybuilding.

But what about people who aren’t as athletic? What is the minimum “amount” of exercise that could help combat some of the conditions that pose the greatest threat to health?

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

This research suggests that engaging in vigorous exercise for just 2 minutes a day could help reduce the risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular events.

Researchers found that study participants who never engaged in vigorous exercise had a 4% risk of dying within 5 years, but that introducing less than 10 minutes of vigorous activity per week reduced the risk by half that risk. Additionally, their risk of death was further halved for those who exercised at least 60 minutes per week.

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

However, he also warned that physical activity related to household chores or work, as opposed to exercise in a leisure context, can sometimes do more harm than good.

Once again, his idea is supported by recently published research, which linked physically demanding occupations to a higher risk of cognitive impairment.

Some of the most common occupations related to intensive physical activity cited in this research were nursing, retail, and agriculture, where individuals are on their feet a lot and often have to deal with stressful situations.

So while all forms of exercise can be good for your health, strenuous or strenuous physical activity in a work environment could end up increasing the risk of various health problems.

And even recreational exercise can affect aspects of physical health, such as joint integrity, particularly later in life. In our podcast, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and Eddie emphasized the importance of consulting a trusted healthcare professional, who can advise you on the best forms of exercise to practice 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 “Iron Gran,” listen to our podcast episode in its entirety below or on your favorite streaming platform.

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