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Jogging can extend life, claims study

Friday May 4th, 2012

Joggers live for longer, Danish research has concluded.

The activity improves oxygen uptake, increases insulin sensitivity, raises HDL and lowers triglycerides, lowers blood pressure, reduces platelet aggregation, increases fibrinolytic activity, improves heart function, bone density, immune function, reduces inflammation markers, prevents obesity, and improves psychological function.

Delegates at the EuroPRevent2012 meeting, held in Dublin, Ireland, this week (May 3-5), organised by the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR), heard that between one and two-and-a-half hours of jogging per week at a “slow or average” pace can offer huge benefits.

Peter Schnohr, chief cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, said an unpublished analysis carried out in Denmark found that the exercise increases the life expectancy of men by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years.

“The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health,” said Schnohr. “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

The Copenhagen City Heart study, which started 1976, is a prospective cardiovascular population study of about 20,000 men and women aged between 20 to 93 years.

For the jogging sub study, the mortality of 1,116 male joggers and 762 female joggers was compared to the non joggers in the main study population. All participants were asked to answer questions about the amount of time they spent jogging each week, and to rate their own perceptions of pace (defined as slow, average, and fast).

The first data were collected between 1976 to 1978, the second from 1981 to 1983, the third from 1991 to 1994, and the fourth from 2001 to 2003.

Results show that in the follow-up period involving a maximum of 35 years, 10,158 deaths were registered among the non-joggers and 122 deaths among the joggers.

The risk of death was reduced by 44 per cent for both male and female joggers and an increased life expectancy of 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women.

“The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes. Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging, than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise,” said Schnohr.

Natasha Stewart, of the British heart Foundation, said the findings were "no surprise," adding: "Jogging might not be for everybody but there are plenty of other ways to keep active. Swimming, walking or even a spot of gardening can be beneficial, too."

Meanwhile, delegates heard that most people would benefit from eating oily fish regularly.

While eating whole fish is the best way of increasing omega-3, supplements can also play an important role for people who do not like fish.

Philip Calder, a metabolic biochemist and nutritionist from the University of Southampton, England, told delegates: “Omega-3 fatty acids are really important to human health, whether you’re talking about CVD, brain or immune health. Heath professionals have a key role to play in educating the public about the beneficial effects of including fish in their diets.”

But anyone taking supplements should opt for pharmaceutical grade preparations of omega-3 oils because not all over the counter preparations contain the same dose of the fatty acids, he said.

“It’s important that health professionals give clear guidance around the need for patients to take 1g of omega-3 a day to achieve any beneficial effects. With over the counter brands containing different concentrations there’s a danger people may not be receiving sufficient intakes,” he said.

Daan Kromhout, from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, said that eating oily fish was more beneficial than taking supplements because it contains other nutrients such as vitamin D, selenium and iodine.

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Fitness | General Health | Heart Health

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