Richard Beddie of ExerciseNZ hails latest research that longer life is linked to physical activity


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ExerciseNZ (ExerciseNZ) CEO Richard Beddie praised new research from a team of evolutionary biologists and biomedical researchers at Harvard University in the United States, which shows that people who live longer are more likely to be more physically active.

Featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the work presents evolutionary and biomedical evidence showing that humans, who have evolved to live several decades after ceasing to reproduce, have also evolved to be relatively active in their later years.

The research, Relax as you get older? Wrong, shows that physical activity later in life shifts energy from processes that can compromise health to the body’s mechanisms that prolong it.

Advising that the exercise industry has always known that physical activity is great for people’s longevity, which is now confirmed by research, Beddie (photo below) explains “the Harvard researchers did their job. They hypothesize that people have evolved to stay physically active as they age – and in so doing, to allocate energy to physiological processes that slow the body’s gradual deterioration over the years.

“It protects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

“Researchers say that as people get older it becomes even more important to stay physically active.

“Their paper is the first detailed evolutionary explanation for why lack of physical activity as humans age increases disease risk and reduces longevity.

“The body’s response to physical damage, however, is essentially to build back stronger.

“This includes repairing tears in muscle fibers, repairing damage to cartilage and healing microfractures.

“The response also causes the release of exercise-related antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and improves blood circulation. In the absence of physical activity, these responses are less activated.

Beddie urges people to choose to exercise, engaging in voluntary physical activity for health and fitness reasons.

He also points out that physical activity levels have declined around the world as machines and technology replace human labor.

The advice of researchers is that people do something and try to make it enjoyable in order to keep going. Even small amounts of physical activity – just 10 or 20 minutes a day – dramatically reduces the risk of death.

Beddie refers to World Health Organization guidelines recommending that children and adolescents between the ages of five and 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day.

He goes on to say that “physical activity for more than 60 minutes a day will provide additional health benefits. Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week.

“But the key is to start somewhere, once a week for 30 minutes is better than no exercise.”

Click here for more information on the Relax as you get older? Bad study.

Main image courtesy of the Town of Moonee Valley.

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