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Exercise your way to longer life

20th November 2012

Researchers in Copenhagen have found that cyclists who ride more strenuously are likely to live longer than those who take it easy, while other studies have shown that doing even a small amount of exercise can lengthen life.

cycling2The Danish study, published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, followed 5,106 adult recreational cyclists for about 18 years.

Participants reported the number of hours they were riding their bikes for, and how hard.

Deaths among the group were recorded, and results showed that the men and women who said they had ridden at a fast pace lived longer than the slower cyclists.

None of the cyclists took part in racing, however.

The study authors concluded that adult cyclists would be better off riding faster.

Meanwhile, a study at the Harvard Medical School found that the total amount of energy consumed was a more important factor in determining longevity, not the intensity of exercise a person did.

Writing in the journal PLoS Medicine, researchers from the National Cancer Institute and other institutions used data from 650,000 adults in the United States who had participated in the Institute's studies.

They compared study participants' activity levels with the 150 minutes of moderate activity (defined as something like brisk walking) per week which is currently recommended by the US government.

Participants who did this lived on average 3.4 years longer than those who didn't.

However, doing more than the recommended amount of exercise only conferred limited benefits compared with those who did only that amount of exercise.

For example, people who did twice as much as the recommended level of exercise only lived on average 10 months longer than those who matched the recommended level.

The benefits still held if people were overweight or obese, regardless of whether or not weight loss occurred.

And people who only managed an average of 10 minutes' walking a day still lived an average of two years longer than those who did no exercise at all.

According to study lead author Steven Moore, research fellow with the National Cancer Institute, maximum longevity was reached at a physical activity level equivalent to 65 minutes per day of walking.

He said there was no evidence that walking for any longer than that would lengthen life at all.

The study authors concluded that people who exercise even only a little can lengthen their lifespan.

Co-author I-Min Lee added that intense exercise could probably also give an additional benefit above moderate exercise.

But she said that people who did not wish to exercise more intensely, or who were unable to, should not worry about it, because most of the benefits of exercise are gained in the move from none at all to only a little.

 

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