Can Exercise Make You Live Longer?

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Exercise can have a very important role in the development of certain chronic diseases associated with the aging process.If you are over 55 years of age, you may be familiar with the term anti-aging. This term can imply various things to people, but I think it really means longevity combined with a high quality of life. It’s great to live 10 years longer, but you also don’t want to live those last years of your life sick and chronically ill. There are a few ways to accomplish this and, in my opinion, exercise is one of the best methods to meet this goal.

Depending upon when it is started, exercise can have a very important role in the development of certain chronic diseases associated with the aging process. If you are middle-aged and you perform cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes a day, three to five times per week, your risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke decreases. What if you also train with weights three to four times per week on a consistent basis? If this is the case, your risk of osteoporosis, degenerative arthritis, and falls will also be reduced.

Research has shown that regular physical activity can actually improve the way that your arteries function by positively influencing the inner-most endothelial linings of the artery. This direct effect of exercise improves the flow of blood throughout the heart, brain, lungs, and legs and decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke attributed to atherosclerosis. The important part of this research also indicates that much older people who show advanced changes to their artery walls caused by aging can also benefit from regular exercise! In other words, exercise can help protect you from atherosclerosis associated with aging and it’s not too late to benefit from an exercise program, even if you are much older.

There has been some other research published showing a direct link between exercise and increased longevity. For example, in a large population of subjects, which were studied in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, those who were regular joggers had lower levels of death from all causes compared to the subjects who did not jog—they lived an average of five to six years longer!

PLUS: Exercise helps your brain, too

Sometimes, if you study the lives of successful people, you can learn a lot! Researchers studied the lives of over 15,000 former Olympic athletes representing nine different countries. They compared these former athletes with a similar-sized group of non-athletes and measured their rates of mortality. The researchers found that the former Olympic athletes lived an average of three years longer than the people in the non-athlete group regardless of the specific Olympic activity. Although there are several factors which could explain this, the effect that a lifestyle which incorporated regular physical activity has upon longevity cannot be discounted.

There is no longer any doubt that a regular exercise program which emphasizes balance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and strength training can delay some of the physiological markers of the aging process, so start exercising today!

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Siasos, G., et al., “The impact of physical activity on endothelial function in middle-aged and elderly subjects: the Ikaria study,” Hellenic J Cardiol. March-April 2013; 54(2): 94-101.
Schnohr, P., “Longevity in male and female joggers: the Copenhagen City Heart Study,” Am J Epidemiol. April 1, 2013; 177(7): 683-9.
Clarke, P.M., “Survival of the fittest: retrospective cohort study of the longevity of Olympic medallists in the modern era,” BMJ. December 13, 2012; 345:e8308.
Gremeaux, V., et al., “Exercise and longevity Maturitas,” December 2012; 73(4): 312-7.

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Dr. K.J. McLaughlin, BPE, CSCS, MASc. DC

About the Author, Browse K.J.'s Articles

Dr. K.J.McLaughlin is a chiropractor with 27 years of clinical experience. In addition, he has degrees in physical education, nutrition and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an interest in anti-aging medicine. He has also spent time studying health promotion and the effect that health education has upon health outcomes. Dr. McLaughlin has a diverse professional background which has involved clinical management, teaching, health promotion and health coaching and brings a unique passion to his work.