Is exercise the key to a longer, healthier life?

Is exercise the key to a longer, healthier life?

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How does exercise affect longevity? New study offers insights. Gulero/Getty Images
  • There are many factors when it comes to living a long and healthy life.
  • Some of these factors cannot be changed, while many others are modifiable.
  • A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Jyväskylä found that although exercise is important for living a long life, adopting other healthy lifestyle habits may have a greater impact.

There are many factors that go into it when it comes to living a long and healthy life.

Some factors such as Genetics And sex It cannot be changed. However, many other habits can be modified, such as nutrition, physical activity, reducing stress, not smoking, and proper sleep.

a New study Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, currently undergoing peer review, have found that although exercise is important for living a long life, adopting other healthy lifestyle habits may have a greater impact.

said Ms. Anna Kankanpaa, project researcher at the Center for Aging Research at the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and lead author of this study. Medical news today I decided to study the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and the risk of death from A Previous study Researchers conducted at the University of Jyväskylä suggested that the association may be due to genetic influences.

“This finding contradicts the results of a study conducted on Swedish twins, which found an association independent of genetic factors,” Kankanpaa continued. “I aimed to explore the reason for this discrepancy.”

Also, in the study, the researchers discussed that while previous research shows a link between exercise and a lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death, some previous research – e.g. this study Published December 2021 – Exercise does not reduce all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in older adults or people with chronic diseases, found.

Researchers say this may show that there are underlying factors other than exercise alone that affect how long a person lives.

In this study, the research team used data from more than 11,000 sets of adult twins from the Finnish Twin Cohort.

Study participants’ amount of physical activity was assessed through questionnaires administered in 1975, 1981, and 1990. Participants were divided into four groups: sedentary, moderately active, active, and very active. Participants’ deaths were monitored until 2020, a period of 45 years.

At the end of the study, Kankanpaa and her team found that more than a third of participants from the stable group, nearly 40%, died due to follow-up deaths in 2020, the largest proportion among the four groups.

Participants in the active groups had a 15% to 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality than the sedentary group.

“I was not surprised (by these results) because many observational studies consistently point to this association,” Kankanba commented.

The researchers then took into account other lifestyle factors, including body mass index (BMI), health status, alcohol use, and smoking status.

When these factors were applied, the mortality rate of participants in the sedentary group decreased to a maximum of 7%.

The scientists also found that participants in the sedentary and highly active groups experienced an acceleration in performance Biological aging When compared to the active and moderately active groups.

According to the study, researchers believe that the beneficial association between long-term exercise and lower risk of death was not largely accounted for by exercise but also by other health-related factors.

Rather than being a cause of a lower risk of death, regular physical activity may instead be an indicator of an overall healthy lifestyle, helping to prolong a person’s life.

“It would be interesting to study whether the same applies to cause-specific deaths, such as deaths from cardiovascular disease,” Kankanba said when asked about the next steps in this research. “Furthermore, I would like to investigate the underlying causes of the accelerated biological aging observed in highly active participants.”

After reviewing this study, Dr. David Cutler, a board-certified family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, said: MNT This study’s conclusion that the health benefits of physical activity may reflect overall health behavior, rather than exercise being the cause of lower mortality, is logical.

“(It) is consistent with my own observation that although many people exercise for health benefits, they often expect it to counteract unhealthy behaviors, which is not the case,” Dr. Cutler explained. “This idea of ​​a ‘compensatory belief’ was supported by the findings of the study.”

“The compensatory belief is the common idea that if you do something healthy, you can counteract something unhealthy,” he continued. “For example, if you exercise you will eliminate the harmful effects of smoking. In fact, what the study found is that the mortality rate in the sedentary group improved if you eliminated factors such as obesity and smoking.

Dr. Cutler also said it’s important to remember that healthy physical activity does not make up for an unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol or drug use, or other harmful activities such as ignoring high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

He added: “Significant improvements in health have been achieved around the world through five simple measures: avoiding obesity, keeping blood pressure normal, not smoking, controlling diabetes, and treating high cholesterol.” “Regular exercise may add to these benefits, but it will not offset the harmful effects of ignoring these proven beneficial activities.”

MNT He also spoke with Dr. Cheng Han Chen, board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute, Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, about this study.

Dr. Chen said: This study clearly shows that the ability to perform some exercise is associated with a lower mortality rate compared to just sitting and that some exercise is better than none.

He explained: “There have been other studies in the past few years that have shown that there is some kind of balance in the benefits of (exercise).” “A study of how many steps people take every day. These studies have shown that after a certain amount of walking — about 7,000 or 8,000 steps a day — the benefit decreases. So it’s not like you’re walking 20,000 steps a day, you’re better off walking 7,000.” Step daily.

“(This study) is consistent with other (recent) studies that have shown that at least moderate exercise is beneficial,” Dr. Chen added. “The message should be that a very high degree of exercise may not be necessary to get the health benefits.”

Dr. Chen also commented that one limitation is that this research was conducted on a very specific population of Finland, which is not necessarily the same as people in the United States.

“It would be nice to look at data on the more diverse population in the United States,” he added.

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