More About the Importance of Workout Plans for Extending Lifespan
It’s not news that exercise is important for good health. But how often should you change your workout routine? Studies credit regular exercise with helping:
- Manage weight
- Maintain brain health
- Strengthen bones
- Improve circulation
- Lower the risk heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Control stress
- Reduce risk for certain cancers like breast, prostate and colon
Exercise can extend what doctors sometimes refer to as our healthspan – the years of our lives we live without chronic disease and are generally in good health. Exercising can help us feel better on a day-to-day basis.
“Exercise has a myriad of health benefits,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “It’s usually recommended to patients to help prevent chronic conditions and as a component in treatment plans.”
While we’ve long known that exercise is good for us, only 23 percent of Americans get the exercise they need for optimal health. What does the right amount of exercise look like?
Exercise for Health
In 2008, the Department of Health and Human services came out with its first physical activity guidelines for Americans. These guidelines were updated in 2018. Here’s what health officials recommend:
- Participate in moderate activities like walking fast, taking a water aerobics class, riding a bike on a flat surface, playing doubles tennis or mowing your lawn for 30 to 60 minutes, five days per week, equaling between 150 and 300 minutes total.
- Engage in vigorous activities such as running/jogging, swimming laps, jumping rope, riding a bike at a fast pace or uphill, playing singles tennis or playing basketball for 25 to 50 minutes three times per week for a total between 75 and 150 minutes.
- Perform two days of muscle strengthening activities, such as weight lifting.
Exercise For Longevity
Of course, exercise doesn’t just help stave off illnesses — it can add years to your life. There’s a substantial body of medical literature that supports this. This is true for cardiovascular fitness and for strength training. People who do both had a
- 40 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes
- 46 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- 28 percent lower risk from cancer
To be sure, following the guidelines can help you live a longer, healthier life. You may even benefit more by going beyond the guidelines, according to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
In this study, a research team led by Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health tapped 116,221 American adults from two large prospective cohorts – the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that ran from 1988 to 2018 The average age of participants was 66. Most participants were female (63 percent) and white (96 percent).
Researchers followed participants for 30 years, analyzing their medical records and administering a leisure time physical activity questionnaire to them at least 15 times.
People who had vigorously intense physical activity:
- Had a 19 percent lower risk of death from all causes, a 31 percent lower risk of a cardiovascular-related death and a 15 percent lower risk from a non-cardiovascular related death.
- Had a 21 to 23 percent lower risk from death from all causes, a 27 to 33 percent lower risk of cardiovascular-related death and 19 percent lower risk from non-cardiovascular related death if they exercised between two and four times longer than the recommended number of minutes of weekly vigorous intensity physical activity, equaling 150 to 300 minutes.
But the study had good news for people who also performed moderately intense physical activity:
- They had a 20 to 21 percent lower risk of death from all causes, a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of a cardiovascular-related death and a 19 to 20 percent lower risk for a non-cardiovascular related death.
- They also had a 26 to 31 percent lower risk of death from all causes, a 28 to 38 percent lower risk of cardiovascular-related death and a 25 to 27 percent risk from non-cardiovascular related death if they exercised between two and four times longer than the recommended number of minutes of weekly moderate intensity physical activity, equaling 300 to 600 minutes.
Previous studies that looked at long-term exercise beyond the recommended number of minutes, particularly at a vigorous intensity level, such as training for and competing in marathons, triathlons and long-distance bicycle races and found an increased risk of heart issues. However, researchers did not observe these problems in this study.
“This study is promising for people who like to work out at a high intensity, like recreational athletes,” says Kaminetsky. “Regardless of the study results, I believe you should work closely with your doctor to find an activity and intensity level that’s appropriate for your health goals, conditions and medications.”