The key to living longer – move more!
We all dream of living longer, ageing well and living to a ripe old age in the healthiest way possible. It’s a part of our human nature and the fact of the matter is, we want to avoid death for as long as we can.
We are always told of methods that can be deployed to ensure we are living longer, though most of the time there’s very little evidence to back claims. Some say that a life in the sun is all you need, others claim that drinking a glass of red wine each evening is the key to living longer, in fact, I even read one story that suggested the key to living longer came from drinking diet coke every single day.
The reality of this is, some of us will live longer than others, whilst a long life can be down to life choices, generally speaking death is an inevitability, one that can be influenced by a number of factors out of our control. According to CNN, one such life choice that could contribute to a longer lifespan is one of movement. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York have recently published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology which suggests that 30 minutes of gentle physical activity a day can reduce the risk of early death by 17%, a statistic that climbs to a reduction of 35% when the intensity of that activity is increased to something more vigorous.
The important thing to note here is that the findings refer to exercise instead of resting time, so your usual walk to work in the morning might not be enough here, instead, the research finds that those who replace ‘sedentary time’ with exercise live longer. Sedentary time refers to time spent sat or reclined, relaxing. So, when you’re on the sofa at the end of the day ‘winding down’ perhaps consider going for brisk 30 minute walk instead?
Professor Keith Diaz from the Medical Centre has stated that:
“If you replace 30 minutes of sitting time with 30 minutes of light-intensity physical activity — so something just like a casual stroll down the hall — that still can lower your risk of an early death. Obviously, it doesn’t lower your risk as much as exercise, or as much as moderate to vigorous physical activity, but it still can lower risk, and to us, that was somewhat of a new finding.”
In order to explore the legitimacy of this, let’s take a look at what the study involved. According to CNN, the study used data from 7,999 participants aged 45 and above who used body trackers to monitor the performance of their body during sedentary time between the years 2009 and 2013. Initially, the study explored how sitting along could increase risk of an early death, though as the study continued on, findings started to suggest that actual physical activity could be used to ‘reverse’ this sudden increase. Diaz has added:
“In our previous work, we found that if you take a break every 30 minutes, it will lower your risk from sitting. We went deeper into the data to try to understand that more, and why people who took a movement every 30 minutes had a lower risk of death: It’s because they just had more opportunity to move.”
By analysing this data, the research team have eventually concluded that less time spent sitting or reclined is beneficial to life expectancy. This benefit is then amplified by exercise when at least 30 minutes a day is carried out. The more intense the exercise, the greater the benefit and the greater the chance you have of living longer.
Gwendolyn Thomas, the Director of the Exercise Prescription laboratory at Syracuse University has also commented on this study, stating that:
“One of the things that really jumps out at me is that the basic message is: Physical activity of any intensity is needed and beneficial. In this article, they talk about replacing 30 minutes of total sedentary time with 30 minutes of light-intensity physical activity, and they saw a drop of 17% of lower mortality risk. This is really encouraging and should be very encouraging to people.”