Men in their 50s can add two years to their life with exercise

Tuesday, 29 September 2009, 11:30 • 2973 เข้าชมแล้ว
Denis Campbell, health correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 6 March 2009

Article history
Men in their 50s who increase their exercise regime live more than two years longer than couch potatoes of the same age, a new study shows.

Males in their middle years who do a lot of physical activity, equivalent to three hours a week of sport or heavy gardening, can outlive their sedentary peers by 2.3 years and moderate exercisers by just over a year, researchers found.

The benefit to middle-aged men of getting sweaty and out of breath is as significant as giving up smoking, according to a paper published today on the British Medical Journal's website.

Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden examined how changes in the amount of physical activity undertaken by 2,205 men between 1970 and 1973 influenced their chances of dying. Mortality rates 35 years later were highest among men with inactive lifestyles, and lowest among the most active. But the benefit of extra exercise may not be seen for five to 10 years, the academics found.

Experts said the study confirmed that regular physical activity could ward off a range of diseases. "Many men, when they hit their middle years, feel they're too old to be taking up exercise and that sport is a young man's game. So they're less likely to start," said Alan White, a professor of men's health at Leeds Metropolitan University. "But this is exactly the age at which they should be increasing their exercise levels.

"Men from 50 onwards perhaps won't be preparing for the 2012 Olympics, but they could be helping to protect their health by walking, playing a sport, or just using the stairs more. You're nevertoo old to start doing such activities."

Britons have become more and more inactive over the last 30 years because of factors such as the decline of manual labour, an increase in car use and the growth in electronic entertainment.

Sedentary lifestyles are a key contributor to obesity, which the Department of Health says is responsible for 9,000 premature deaths a year in England, and to the rise in Type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity can help reduce a person's risk of getting about 30 major diseases, such as heart problems, cancer and strokes, said Paul Lincoln, chief executive of the National Heart Forum alliance of leading health charities.

Cathy Ross, a cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said: "The study adds support to what we already know, which is that people who are physically active are half as likely to get cardiovascular disease as those who are inactive. Being active at any age helps control weight and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. It will provide long-term benefits for your heart health and general health."
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