Move It to Improve It
In recent weeks, major studies have been released that show the value of a little physical activity on a routine basis. People who are sedentary throughout the day can offset the toxic effects of sitting, for example, by getting up and walking around for two brief minutes every hour, according to one recent study. Even among people with chronic kidney disease, this strategy evidently works to reduce the risk of death.
Another study, published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concluded that just one half hour of physical activity, six days a week, is enough to significantly slash the risk of death among elderly men. Even better, it’s not necessary to engage in intense physical exercise to gain these substantial benefits. Subjects who engaged in light, moderate, or intense physical activity all experienced significant benefits, equal to about a 40% reduction in the risk of death.
Essentially, the results suggest that this modest amount of activity each week is as beneficial to long-term health as quitting smoking. The subjects were elderly men born between 1923 and 1932, who participated in a large national health study in Norway in the early-1970s. More than four decades later, investigators conducted detailed surveys of the men’s health habits and health outcomes.
As you might expect, men who worked out more, or at a greater intensity, enjoyed even greater reductions in the risk of death from all causes. But even just 30 minutes of light activity, six days a week, provided substantial benefits in terms of lower risk of death. Of course, this was an observational study, meaning that investigators can’t claim with absolute certainty that physical activity results in better health and longer life. But it adds to the mounting pile of evidence that even some moderate exercise, on a regular basis, is better than none.
Beddhu S, Wei G, et al. Light-Intensity Physical Activities and Mortality in the United States General Population and CKD Subpopulation. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Apr 30. pii: CJN.08410814. [Epub ahead of print]
Holme I, Anderssen SA. Increases in physical activity is as important as smoking cessation for reduction in total mortality in elderly men: 12 years of follow-up of the Oslo II study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015; 49 (11): 743 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094522