Activity in old age prolongs lives

British researchers provide evidence that exercise reduces mortality risk.


People who are physically active at an advanced age are likely to live longer. And this is almost independent of whether or not a person has engaged in sporting activities previously. This was the conclusion reached recently by scientists at Cambridge University in their study ‘Physical activity trajectories and mortality”. According to the study, mortality risk decreases if people increase their physical activity at an advanced age, in other words if they take more exercise. This also applies to people who have a medical history of cardiovascular disease or cancer. The study can be summarised in a simple statement: “Stay active in your old age and you will live longer”.

For their study, the British scientists evaluated data from 14,599 men and women aged from 40 to 79 who had participated in the ‘European Prospective Investigation into Cancer in Norfolk’ (EPIC-Norfolk) study from 1993 to 1997. The study focused on the links between health-related behaviour and mortality of men and women. The health-related factors in the study included habitual diet, smoking and alcohol intake, as well as the physical activity of the test persons.

Following a baseline assessment, the study participants were examined and interviewed three more times by researchers from the Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge - on average over a period of about 7.6 years. According to the scientists, they then evaluated mortality until 2016. The physical activities included in the study included those at work as well as exercise or sports activities conducted during leisure time.

Substantial benefits with respect to life expectancy

When evaluating the study data, the researchers came to the encouraging conclusion that even older adults with existing cardiovascular diseases or cancer can significantly reduce their mortality risk, in other words improve their life expectancy, if they become more active and take more exercise. Specifically, the authors of the study found that middle-aged and older adults can achieve substantial improvements in their life expectancy if they become more physically active - and this should be emphasised, irrespective of their level of physical activity previously. To put it in a nutshell: it is never too late to take more exercise and thus do something to prolong your life. The researchers at Cambridge University even believe that there may even be considerable positive effects on the health of the population if people in middle age and later life engage more consistently in physical activity.

This is clearly demonstrated by the results of the study; the British epidemiologists were able to prove that an increase in physical activity alone can reduce the risk of death by around a quarter. And the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease even decreased by almost a third in physically active 40-80-year-olds. In addition, the risk of premature cancer death was reduced by about 10 per cent. According to the scientists, those who had exercised sufficiently during the first half of their lives - whether at work or during their free time - and had become even more active later on, benefited most from physical activity: in the study, the mortality risk of these people was 42 per cent lower.

The study therefore provides further evidence that besides having a healthy, balanced diet people should take sufficient exercise in the interest of their personal well-being. After all, both of these reduce health risks - including those associated with overweight and obesity. In this respect, incorporating Almased in a balanced diet to ensure a low-calorie intake is always an ideal strategy.

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