Stay active all day, live longer
Looking for a couple of great reasons to stay active, well now you have them. A recent study finds that living an energetic lifestyle, even without regular exercise, can boost your heart health and years to your life.
The findings are based on a study of nearly 3,900 Stockholm men and women over age 60. Not surprising is that the study, conducted by researchers from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, found that sitting around is actually bad for your health. There are several studies that point to the health benefits of regular exercise, but until now not many have honed in on the two big pros of doing regular and consistent low-intensity activities throughout the day.
One of the lead authors of the study pointed out that even though a person may exercise vigorously for a period of time, if he or she is not active the remainder of the day, it may not be as beneficial to their health. This is especially true for seniors who take part in vigorous exercise, but spend a bulk of the remainder of the day sitting around. This latest research suggests seniors may see additional health benefits if they stay busy throughout the day and cut down on sitting time.
Closer look at the study
More than 5,000 60-year-olds were invited to participate in the study that began in 1997. Initially, participants were asked to fill out a general questionnaire about their lifestyle, health history including medical tests and measurements and daily activities.
Researchers noted at the study’s outset that participants who were more active on a daily basis, regardless of their exercise levels, tended to have a smaller waist circumference and healthier cholesterol levels.
The participants were followed for a period of 12.5 years. At the end of the study researchers found that those who reported higher levels of daily “non-exercise” activity were actually less likely to suffer a heart-related event and lived longer than those who led more sedentary lifestyles.
Some experts are also calling the findings “fascinating but not surprising,” based on other studies that have looked at the detrimental relationship between excessive sitting and mortality and found similar results. When you are sitting your muscles don’t contract, which decreases your blood flow and reduces the efficiency of several of your body’s processes, like the absorption of glucose from the blood.
Researchers for the study say their findings don’t diminish the importance of regular exercise.
“We saw that those who exercised regularly and that also had a daily physically active life had the lowest risk profile of all,” said one of the study’s lead authors in an online statement to Reuters.
Studies show that moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help strengthen your heart muscle and other body muscles. And in some cases it may even help regulate blood pressure.
What the findings do show, researchers say, is that there are health benefits to mixing up your levels of activity throughout the day. The bottom line: sit less and move more when it comes to optimizing your overall health and longevity.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.