Stephen Harridge & Norman Lazarus writing for the BBC:
The greater health of older exercisers compared to their sedentary counterparts can lead people to believe physical activity can reverse or slow down the ageing process.
But the reality is that these active older people are exactly as they should be.
In our distant past we were hunter-gatherers, and our bodies are designed to be physically active.
So, if an active 80-year-old has a similar physiology to an inactive 50-year-old, it is the younger person who appears older than they should be, not the other way around.
Reserch has shown that getting fit in middle age could be as good for you as starting young when it comes to reducing the risk of an early death. But the reverse is also true.
If you have been fit and drop off in later years, there is no difference in the risk of an early death when compared to those who had always been couch potatoes. In other words, there’s no bank, no accumulation of the protective effect of exercise and for having been fit in younger years.
Nicola K S Davis, writing at The Guardian:
“If you are not active and you get to your 40s-50s and you decide to become active, you can still enjoy a lot of those benefits.”
The study, published in the journal Jama Network Open, was based on data from more than 300,000 Americans aged 50-71 who undertook a questionnaire in the mid-1990s. They were asked to estimate the extent of their moderate to vigorous leisure exercise at different stages of their life. Researchers then used national records to track who died in the years up to the end of 2011, and from what.
After taking into account factors including age, sex, smoking and diet, the team found that those who were exercising into middle age had a lower risk of death from any cause in the years that followed than those who had never carried out any leisure exercise. However, when the team looked at 10 different patterns in the way people were active over their life, it found a surprise.
Men and women who ramped up their activity gradually to about seven hours a week by the age of 40-61 reduced their risk of death from any cause in the years that followed by about 35%. The benefit was similar to that seen for people who reached and maintained similar activity from their teens or 20s onwards, or who exercised at such a level when young and middle-aged but dipped in activity in their 30s.
There is no magic shield against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Supplements don’t work. Yet there is evidence that some strategies may help.
Paula Span at the New York Times writes:
- Increased physical activity;
- Blood pressure management for people with hypertension, particularly in midlife;
- And cognitive training.
That last recommendation doesn’t necessarily refer to commercial online brain games, said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a neuropsychiatrist and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who served on the panel.
“It’s really the concept of being mentally active,” she said. “Find something you enjoy where you’re learning something new, challenging and stimulating your brain.”
Though the evidence to date doesn’t establish which mental workouts have the greatest impact or how often people should engage in them, “they’re not expensive and they don’t cause side effects,” Dr. Yaffe pointed out.
The blood pressure recommendation got a boost in January with the latest findings from the Sprint trial, a multisite study stopped early in 2015 when intensive treatment of hypertension (a systolic blood pressure goal of less than 120, compared to the standard 140) was shown to reduce cardiovascular events and deaths.
It’s well known that exercise can improve our physical fitness, prevent chronic diseases and improve our mental health. So it may seem logical that the more you do, the better it is for us. However, a new study suggests that’s not always the case, at least when it comes to mental health.
When digging further into the numbers, the researchers noticed an interesting pattern: People who exercised for a moderate amount of time (about 45 minutes per session) saw better mental health results than those who favored marathon workouts. Similarly, sweating three to five times a week was associated with a bigger reduction in poor mental health days than either not exercising at all or hitting the gym more than five times a week, according to the research. Together, these results led the researchers to conclude that exercising for two to six hours a week may be the sweet spot for mental health.
Read the whole article at Time.
More at BBC
Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times:
Walk for two minutes. Repeat 15 times. Or walk for 10 minutes, thrice. The benefits for longevity appear to be almost exactly the same, according to an inspiring new study of physical activity patterns and life spans.
It finds that exercise does not have to be prolonged in order to be beneficial. It just has to be frequent.
Most of us who are interested in health know that federal exercise guidelines recommend we work out moderately for at least 30 minutes per day at least five times per week in order to reduce our risks of developing many diseases or dying prematurely.
This study was different from most, in that it looked at the participants’ maximum oxygen consumption during aerobic exercise — known as the V02 max.
Yet again another study indicates exercise, this time aerobic exercise, is important in slowing the brain’s aging process.
David DiSalvo, Forbes:
What these results tell us about the role exercise might play in slowing the development of Alzheimer’s is difficult to nail down. While studies like this suggest that exercising more strengthens the brain against the debilitation leading to severe dementia, definitive answers are still elusive. We don’t know, for example, the amount of exercise that makes a difference, if specific types of exercise are better than others, or whether starting exercise later in life can forestall the progression of dementia.
What we do have are solid indications that we should think of exercise and brain health in a similar way to exercise and heart health. Some of the same benefits exercise provides the heart—like improved blood flow and lower inflammation—also benefit the brain. More evidence along those lines keeps coming, further supporting the case that staying active is a better policy for brain health than the alternative.