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Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know: exercising can help you live longer and healthier.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic here.
We all know at this point that, staying active is just as essential as eating the right foods or getting enough sleep.
Nevertheless, there are lots of mornings when I need some serious convincing to get out of bed and take that walk. Remind me again… how, exactly, will it improve my life?
A recent study has answered that question for me in terms I can understand. Perhaps it will also motivate you as well to make exercise more of a priority…
Measuring activity on quality of life
A group of scientists at Cambridge University’s School of Clinical Medicine set out to connect changes in physical activity with quality of life (QoL) in adults over age 60.
To do this, they used accelerometers to examine activity levels among 1,433 participants aged 60 and older. They tracked not only how much they exercised, but how much of their time was spent sedentary as well.
But how to define and measure quality of life?
Participants were given a questionnaire about their health-related quality of life, which included aspects like pain, ability to care for themselves, anxiety and mood.
Based on their responses, each participant was given a score between zero (worst quality of life) and one (best).
Six years later, researchers followed up to see if there were any changes in both activity levels and QoL scores…
Physical activity matters, especially after 60
If you had to guess, do you think the participants maintained their activity levels? Unfortunately, that’s a big old “no.”
Both men and women were doing around 24 minutes less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. Compounding the decrease in activity was the fact that their total sedentary time increased by an average of around 33 minutes a day for men and around 38 minutes a day for women.
For every minute that their amount of physical activity level dropped, their quality of life scores dropped by 0.3. And according to the researchers, a decrease in activity of just 15 minutes translated to a drop of 0.45 in quality of life. Sitting for 15 minutes more each day saw their QoL score drop by 0.18 points.
You would probably like to know how those QoL scores and the drop in physical activity could impact your daily life…
Well for starters, a 0.1 point improvement in quality of life scores has previously been associated with a 6.9 percent reduction in early death and a 4.2 percent reduction in risk of hospitalization.
That means older adults who remain more active have a better quality of life.
How to secure your quality of life
This is yet another piece of research showing that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity regularly is the best thing you can do to increase your healthspan — the amount of time you get to live a healthy, disease-free life. If that’s not the quality of life goal to aim for, I’m not sure what else is.
If you haven’t been active, it’s never too late to start…
What do we mean by moderate-to-vigorous activity? Well, how about brisk walking? You might remember the report involving 400,000 subjects that found brisk walking slowed biological aging, directly impacting a key marker of aging — telomeres.
But if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other moderate-to-vigorous activities you might try…
- Stair climbing
- Treadmill walking
Even washing windows qualifies! And for someone like me, who is no great fan of sweating, exercise “snacking” is the way to go.
So, I’ve found my motivation. Every day is a new adventure. I’ve got a long “bucket list.” As I lace my sneakers in the morning, I remind myself that this “snack” I’m about to have will help me stay around long enough to check them all off my list — and feel great while I do!
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Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity — Harvard School of Public Health