How to Lower Your Chances of Dying Early

Researchers at National Cancer Institute in Bethesda showed that engaging in physical activity for at least three hours per week appears to decrease chances of dying early by more than 25 percent.

The investigators evaluated the exercise habits of 252,925 adults aged 50 to 71 years who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health–American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study. 7900 deaths occurred during 1,265,347 person-years of follow-up. Those with the relatively modest exercise program of 30 minutes on most days of the week, or vigorous exercise of at least 20 minutes three times per week, were 27 percent less likely to die during the followup period. The authors state that: "Our findings suggest that engaging in any physical activity by those who are currently sedentary represents an important opportunity to decrease the risk of mortality." Journal reference

Another study from India showed that former athletes who continue to exercise all their lives are far less likely to suffer heart attacks than former athletes who do not continue to exercise. Compared to sedentary former athletes, active older athletes weigh less, have less body fat, lower total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and ratio of total cholesterol to good HDL cholesterol than sedentary older athletes, all signs of decreased risk for heart attacks. Surprisingly, sedentary older athletes have higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels than sedentary older non-athletes. It takes a lot of muscle to be a good athlete. Insulin, insulin-like growth factors and growth hormones give people large muscles and bones to make them stronger. However, these same hormones also cause the body to store fat. So former athletes who stop exercising are more likely to be fat and have higher cholesterols because of these same hormones.

The message is: start exercising, and once you start, keep it up for the rest of your (long) life.


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