Exercise can make me live longer?
Essentially, yes! According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise provides an incredible myriad of health benefits. These benefits range from strengthening bones to positive effects on mood, losing weight and improving balance, to preventing chronic illness such and diabetes and heart disease.
Research dating back to the late 1980s has consistently shown that aerobic fitness may help extend lives. Let’s look at a study where they compared the heart, lungs and muscles of active 70 year olds, inactive 70 year olds and active 40 year olds. Results showed that the active older men and women had comparable heart and lung capacity and muscle strength of those who were 30 years younger.
This is just one example of the numerous studies that have shown that exercise can actually help you live longer. It’s pretty logical that if exercise reduces your chance of getting heart disease or cancer, then you’ve also reduced your risk of dying from them, right? But there is something else that we need to shed light on.
The longevity benefit is not all about reducing your chances of dying from a chronic disease. There are actual cellular changes associated with regular exercise that keep you younger. Researchers at Bringham Young University who studied the DNA of nearly 6,000 adults found that the telomeres, the end caps on chromosomes that shorten with age, were longer in people who were active compared to those who were sedentary. This correlated to about a 9-year difference in cell aging between those who were active versus those who were inactive.
So what does this mean for you?
Based on everything you know about exercise, and the different types of exercise, there is always a way to get some movement in. Between walking, swimming, dancing, light weight-lifting, stretching, and more, there’s an active activity for everyone.