Friday, December 14, 2007

Exercise more to live longer: study

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Following national recommendations for physical activity can lengthen your life, results of a study indicate.

In the study, people 50 to 71 years old who got at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week -- as recommended in U.S. national guidelines -- were 27 percent less likely to die over the next six or seven years, Dr. Michael F. Leitzmann of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and colleagues found.

People who engaged in 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week cut their risk of death by 32 percent. Smaller amounts of physical exercise appeared to be associated with a 19 percent reduced risk of death.

"Our study really does lend support to the current physical activity recommendations," Leitzmann told Reuters Health. While past research has found longevity benefits for exercise, he noted, the current study is unique in that it looked at the effects of physical activity for several subgroups of the general population. And no matter what a person's body mass index, gender, ethnicity, education level or smoking status, exercise was equally beneficial.

"Physical activity will benefit practically everyone," Leitzmann said. "There's not any specific subgroup in which this association would not be operative."

He and his colleagues looked at 252,925 men and women participating in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

Mortality risk was most dramatically reduced when people were at least moderately active for a half hour at least five days a week, and engaged in vigorous activity, meaning exercise that increases heart and breathing rate or causes a person to break a sweat, at least three times a week for 20 minutes. On average, people who were this active were 50 percent less likely to die during follow-up than people who didn't get any exercise.

Even people who were moderately active but didn't meet recommendations for physical activity showed some benefit; they were 19 percent less likely to die during the study's follow-up period than sedentary individuals.

"Engaging in any level of activity is better than not engaging in that activity," Leitzmann said. "That's kind of an encouraging piece of information for people who feel they might not be able to meet the guidelines."

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, Dec. 10/24, 2007.


Post a Comment

<< Home