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Fitness - the secret of long life?

Friday October 21st, 2011

Women gain more physical fitness than men from light exercise, according to a major analysis published yesterday.

The research project, conducted in Vienna, Austria, shows how varying amounts of regular exercise of different intensity can add years to life.

Researchers from across Europe analysed some 80 studies involving some 1.3 million people.

Researcher Dr Guenther Samitz, of the University of Vienna, says: "Any physical activity is better than none and even activities of daily life are associated with a survival benefit, but more and vigorous-intensity physical activity are associated with a larger reduction in all-cause mortality."

The research, reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed that women who kept active in their daily lives enjoyed improved survival - as did elderly people. But this did not apply to men.

The researchers say that as activity approaches the World Health Organisation target of two and a half hours a week death rates fall by ten per cent - and people who make up their activity time with vigorous exercise, such as jogging, enjoy a 22 per cent reduction.

The most active people, exercising vigorously for five hours a week throughout their lives, enjoyed reductions in death rates of up to 40 per cent.

* Meanwhile a heart specialist in Canada suggested that healthy living could add up to 50 years of life. Dr Clyde Yancy has identified seven steps to long life, including activity, healthy diet, healthy weight and not smoking. He also includes controlling cholesterol and blood pressure and ensuring diabetes is managed.

He made his point at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver.

Amy Thompson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Dr Yancy’s simple suggestions aren’t rocket science but he’s right to say they could make a huge and immediate difference to the heart health of many, many people.

“Each of us can help lessen the national burden of heart disease by choosing a healthier lifestyle, but our governments must also do all they can to help individuals make those choices which will save lives and money.”

Domains of physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Guenther Samitz, Matthias Egger and Marcel Zwahlen. International Journal of Epidemiology 2011; 1-19 DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyr112.

Tags: Europe | Fitness | Heart Health | Menís Health | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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