Archive for the tag - longevity

Run More, Live Longer.

John JeffersonWith more than 600 muscles in the human body, one thing is clear: We are meant to move! And thanks to a new study published in the American College of Cardiology, we’re learning how important movement - and running, in particular - is to a longer life.

Over the course of 15 years, researchers examined more than 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 to determine whether or not there’s a relationship between running and longevity. During the study, 3,413 participants died including 1,217 deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease.

By crunching the data, researchers discovered that runners have an overall 30% lower risk of death from all causes. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, runners were 45% less likely to die compared to non-runners. On average, runners lived an astounding three years longer than non runners. Individuals benefited from running regardless of age, sex, body mass index, health conditions, smoking or alcohol use.

Moreover, researchers found that even slow or less frequent runners still enjoyed benefits. Runners who ran less than one hour per week experienced the same mortality benefits as runners who ran more than three hours. In other words, more running isn’t necessarily better from the perspective of longevity.

If you want to live longer, it’s time to get off your computer or away from your smartphone. Give yourself the free and wonderful gift of a good run.

15 Minutes of Exercise = 3 Years Longer Life.

live_long_and_prosper_car_sticker__55182Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between exercise and longevity, but a massive study published in The Lancet further quantifies the benefit.

The study examined more than 400,000 men and women from 1996 to 2008, and placed individuals into one of five groups depending on weekly exercise levels: inactive, low activity, medium activity, high activity or very high activity. Then, mortality risks were compared to the inactive group - and life expectancy was calculated.

The low activity group exercised an average of 92 minutes per week, or roughly just 15 minutes per day. Despite their low levels of activity, this group still benefited from a 14% reduction in all-cause mortality and a 3 year extension of life expectancy. With some very quick calculations for this group, it means that roughly every minute at the gym extended their life by 3 minutes. Not too bad.

In this way, it’s smart to think of exercise as an investment in your future. It’s like a 401k or retirement plan for your life. Invest a few minutes today for a huge benefit down the road.

Moreover, the benefit of exercise on longevity increased for each subsequent group, though with diminishing returns. Every additional 15 minutes of exercise decreased the mortality rate by another 4%.

The takeaway is pretty simple: Move more, live longer. If you want to enjoy a long stay on this planet, regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure a lengthy and healthy life.


Do Overweight People Live Longer?

Do overweight people live longer? Yes, according to a slew of new research.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed more than 100 previously published research papers about the link between body weight and mortality risk for nearly 3 million participants. Not surprisingly, obese people had an increased risk of death during the course of the study. But interestingly, overweight (but not obese) individuals had a 6% decreased risk of mortality when compared to their so-called “normal weight” counterparts. The findings held true despite gender, smoking status and region of the world.

With more than 2/3 of Americans overweight, the term “normal weight” is actually a bit misleading. The study used body mass index (BMI) categories set by the Word Health Organization as follows:

  • Underweight = BMI less than 18.
  • Normal weight = BMI between 18.5 and 25
  • Overweight = BMI between 25 and 30
  • Obese = BMI of over 30

The findings aren’t really new, but many people continue to be surprised by the data. Most people don’t expect to find a benefit associated with being overweight, so what’s the real story? Why might overweight people actually live longer?

There are a few theories.

For one, overweight people may get better medical care because they’re either screened more regularly or already seeking treatment for an ailment. This added medical care might give overweight individuals a leg up on their thinner counterparts.

Alternatively, the researchers believe there may be a high chance for overweight people to survive medical emergencies. For example, if you get sick and lose 20 pounds, it helps to have the extra 20 pounds to lose.

Or it could be that the thin people are thin because they’re already sick. It could basically be a case of reverse causation. Perhaps being thin doesn’t make you sick, but being sick makes you thin.

Moreover, the study doesn’t look at quality of life or how healthy thin vs. overweight individuals were at the time of death.

The study certainly isn’t a free pass to gain some extra weight or to eat an extra scoop of ice cream. Instead, it shows us how complicated the link is between our weight, our health and our longevity.

Physical Activity Extends Life Expectancy 4.5 Years.

We know that physical activity has a long list of benefits, one of which includes extending your life expectancy. But by how much? Thanks to a new study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), we now have the answer.

Up to 4.5 years.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week (or 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity activity). Using these guidelines, researchers from NCI looked at data from 650,000 adults while controlling for other factors that could influence life expectancy.

Based on the data, researchers found that getting just half the recommended physical activity resulted in a life expectancy gain of 1.8 years. Getting the full recommended amount of physical activity resulted in a 3.4 year gain. Getting twice resulted in 4.2 years. And getting triple the amount of activity resulted in a 4.5 year gain.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that obesity was linked to shorter lifespans - but they also discovered that physical activity helped to reverse some of the harm. Whether or not you’re in shape, physical activity helps to extend your life expectancy.

We know that regular physical activity helps maintain healthy weight, strong bones, agile joints, muscle mass, psychological well-being and a reduced risk of certain diseases. And now, looking at this study’s findings, we can see those benefits collectively quantified in terms of life expectancy.

It’s why I like to say that we don’t have time not to workout. I have too much to do to die 4.5 years early. What about you?

Calculate Your Life Expectancy.

While much of the Valentine’s Day hooplah is about giving gifts to others, I have a gift suggestion for your body: Use the lifespan calculator to test your life expectancy. And then, do something about it.

Based on a number of variables, this quick test will put together an estimated expiration for your life. Using equations, data and research, the approximation is obviously just an educated guess. You could, for example, get hit by a car crossing the street later this afternoon.

The real value in the lifespan calculator is noticing how your answers change your estimated age of death. Some of the variables - like family history - are unchangeable. But many of the answers, like those related to exercise and nutrition, are within your control. To these answers, I’d encourage you to pay special attention.

For example, to talk about alcohol abuse is one thing. But to see how many years it shaves of your life can be a real wake up call. And it can be a real motivator to make the changes - or get the help - that is required.

As Valentine’s Day is about love, there’s no better way to show your body some love than by making decisions - and changes in your lifestyle - that honor it. Get started today by calculating your estimated lifespan.

P.S. In the comments below, share your estimated lifespan - and a change or two that you can make to extend it. Mine was 92.

What is Wealth Without Health?

As an investment in their future finances, many adults make use of 401k plans, social security, pensions, etc. Each and every pay period, these forward-thinking individuals set money aside so that they’ll have income during retirement.

But what is wealth without health?

A 53-year study on the measurable benefits of physical activity will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Researchers found that individuals who were active younger in life performed better later in life. According to lead researcher, Rachel Cooper, PhD, “Increased activity should be promoted early in adulthood to ensure the maintenance of physical performance in later life.”

In other words, the exercise performed today has a cumulative beneficial effect that is enjoyed for decades to come.

There are many aspects of aging that are beyond our control, but physical activity is one important variable we can manipulate. By moving more when we’ll younger, we’ll increase performance and strength during our elderly years. And as it turns out, increases in performance and strength improve not just the quality of life, but also decrease the risk of debilitating (and sometimes fatal) disease and loss of independence.

In the same way that financial advisers tell us to save  for our retirement when we are young, so too must we invest in physical activity and exercise. And while 69% of Americans do save money for retirement, only 30% exercise regularly. Let’s change that.

Your future self will thank you.

Drinkers Live Longer [Study].

Longevity never tasted so good.

A new study from scientists at University of Texas Austin and Sanford University demonstrates that drinkers (both heavy and light) outlive their non-drinking counterparts. The study lasted some 20 years and studied 1,800 individuals.

The results are pretty shocking - and a bit rattling for a non-drinker like me. Even after eliminating recovering alcoholics and after adjusting the data for health, socioeconomic differences, etc., non-drinkers still come in last.

The real secrets to longevity can be found by studying those parts of the world where people live the longest (like Sardinia or Okinawa). Research shows that longevity is the result of four things: Good genes, a healthy, plant-based diet, exercise and low stress.

So how does drinking fit it? We can speculate that drinking helps relieve stress - or that non-drinkers may have no other outlets. Or perhaps drinkers are more likely to form therapeutic social bonds than their non-drinking counterparts. We know that alcohol increases risk for various cancers and liver disease, but apparently those risks are outweighed by the social benefits of drinking.

It’s worth noting that the study was targeted at people in their twilight years. Drinking - especially heavy drinking - may affect younger people differently (i.e., car crashes, suicides, etc.). So it’s important not to jump the gun and try to justify alcoholism and binge drinking. Nonetheless, the research is interesting - so go ahead and tip your pints to longevity. Cheers!