According to a recent article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, sustained physical activity not only helps us to lead a healthy life but also prolongs life. This is the conclusion reached after Australian researchers have conducted a long-term study that included 12,000 elderly Western Australian men.
The study, which was conducted over a 13-year period showed that 150 minutes of sustained physical activity a week can extend life by 3 years. It was also shown that those who remained physically active during the study aged more successfully than the participants who were inactive. It should be noted that researchers have defined successful aging ageing without loss of memory, functional disabilities or depression: physical activity was defined as 150 minutes of exercise that made participants gasp. “In other words they were able to move about and do their business without significant assistance – looking after their finances, looking after themselves, looking after their house etc, and they did not have any evidence of mental illness.”
Lead author Professor Osvaldo Almeida said that the study showed that not only active people were more likely to live longer than inactive people, but those who were active, when they grew in old, they were in good shape, without having functional or cognitive problems. This means that active people who have reached old age could take care of themselves without requiring assistance.
Another conclusion of the researchers from University of Western Australia was that it is never too late to start physical activity. Professor Almeida, Winthrop Chair of Geriatric Psychiatry at UWA ‘s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, noted that the study proved that it’s never too late to start doing sustained physical activity. It seems that people who were inactive at baseline but start doing sport during the study were able to enjoy the same benefits during the period of follow up. It is true that the benefits were not as great as the ones of those who were active from the beginning.
In addition, those who were active but dropped out during the 13 years of follow up have lost health benefits of physical activity. Professor Almeida pointed out that it is better to take up physical activity than being active and quitting. He added that it is never too late to do sport and that regular physical activity not only helps you live longer but also increases the chance of successful aging.