Prolonged life through light movement

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Even moderate physical activity can extend life, according to a study

Even light physical activities during leisure time increase life expectancy. The research team led by Steven Moore from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda (Maryland) has carried out a comprehensive study to analyze the possible effects of physical activity on life expectancy and has now published the results in the specialist journal "PLoS Medicine".

Even slight movement can significantly increase life expectancy, according to the results of the current study. For their analysis, the researchers used “data from six prospective cohort studies from the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium” based on 654,827 individuals between the ages of 21 and 90. In addition to physical activities, the scientists also took into account the body mass index (BMI; relation of body weight to body size)) of the test subjects. With regard to life expectancy, they found the greatest differences between slim, physically active and obese inactive study participants. For their part, inactive slim people died earlier than active overweight people, which suggests that physical activity has a greater impact on life expectancy than body weight.

Longer lives through walks Together with Scandinavian researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (Sweden), the Norwegian Cancer Registry in Oslo, the Institute for Community Medicine in Tromso (Norway) and the non-governmental organization Samfundet Folkhalsan in Helsinki (Finland), the US scientists led by Steven Moore the data from the previous cohort studies were evaluated. Within the framework of the underlying studies, the subjects were observed on average over a period of ten years. A total of 82,465 deaths were observed in people over the age of 40 during the study period. If the deaths were related to physical activities, it has been shown that even low "physical activity from 0.1 to 3.74 hours per week" significantly increases life expectancy, report Moore and colleagues. Walking briskly for 75 minutes a week means that an average of 1.8 years of additional lifespan.

Active fat people live longer than inactive normal weight people. Taking the subjects' BMI into account, the researchers found that normal weight people (BMI from 18.5 to 25) who were hardly physically active died an average of 3.1 years earlier than fat people (BMI 30 to 34.9) who moved around a lot in their free time. From a BMI of 30 people according to the World Health Organization (WHO) are considered obese. The researchers found the clearest difference in life expectancy with an average of 7.2 years between inactive, extremely obese people (BMI over 35) and physically active (7.5 hours of exercise a week), normal-weight study participants (BMI 18.5 to 25). Only deaths of people over the age of 40 were considered in the analysis.

Moderate physical activity with a positive effect on health According to the researchers, the current results show that "moderate physical activity can have a positive effect on health - even if it does not lead to weight loss." Steven Moore and colleagues also hope with their study to be able to convince currently inactive people that "even light exercise, such as regular gardening or brisk walking, is worthwhile in terms of one's life expectancy". According to current knowledge, it would be desirable to have "a combination of a lot of exercise and normal weight". However, this should have been clear to most without the extensive study by the Scandinavian-American research team. For many, on the other hand, the knowledge that even slight movement is sufficient to achieve a positive effect could be new. So it doesn't necessarily have to be sport.

Lack of exercise is a widespread risk factor The renowned sports scientist, Professor Ingo Froböse, from the German Sport University in Cologne, explained to the current study to the news agency "dpa" that the widespread "sedentary lifestyle is a real risk factor". Physical inactivity has become a major problem worldwide. This is associated with a multitude of health risks and "according to current WHO figures, we have 3.2 million deaths per year due to physical inactivity," said Prof. Froböse. Most recently, a research team led by Dr. I-Min Lee of Harvard Medical School concluded that "physical inactivity caused six percent of the disease burden from coronary artery disease, seven percent of type 2 diabetes, ten percent of breast cancer, and ten percent of colorectal cancer." As the scientists in the specialist magazine "The Lancet" emphasized, the associated millions of deaths per year could be avoided with relatively little effort. This assessment is confirmed by the current findings from Moore and colleagues. (fp)

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