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  • Sarah Morton | Chartered Physiotherapist

Do you want a healthy long life?

In the last 2 years I have been seeing a steady flow of research coming out, looking to answer the question - how can we live a longer and healthier life?

Back in May 2015 I shared in this blog some research showing us that ANY physical exercise reduced our risk of early death. And adding some more vigorous exercise to the mix further improved our chances of avoiding early death.

Now this year, there have been further studies and insights into the effect of exercise on our life and health. This information is so inspiring that I wanted to share it. These studies show us that exercise not only helps us live longer, but to be healthier in later life too. Not surprising perhaps, but seeing the evidence build up is exciting.

Here are some highlights.

1. Taking up exercise, even in later life, reduces the risk of disease, helps maintain cognitive function, reduces the risk of depression, and reduces disability. This study shows exercise makes our life and health better in a number of ways, and we can reap the benefits no matter what our age.

2. Exercise may slow the ageing process by preserving our chromosomes. This study looked at the impact of exercise on the ageing of our chromosomes, and the results are exciting - "Exercise science professor Larry Tucker found adults with high physical activity levels have telomeres with a biological ageing advantage of nine years over those who are sedentary, and a seven-year advantage compared to those who are moderately active. To be highly active, women had to engage in 30 minutes of jogging per day (40 minutes for men), five days a week.

3. Exercise reduces the risk and impact of disease. There are a number of studies which show that regular moderate exercise can reduce the risk of disease and cognitive decline in later life (like this one), can significantly improve recovery and survival after breast cancer , and can reduce the risk of suffering and episode of back pain.

All this research points us to maintaining a healthy level of exercise, perhaps 150 minutes per week. Add a little exercise at higher intensity and you reap even more benefits. Brisk walking instead of a stroll. Play singles in tennis as well as doubles to increase your work load, and jog instead of walk.

This is my new motto - Movement is Medicine!


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