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25 Jan

Study Finds Exercise Prolongs Lifespan

runA study published Tuesday in the online edition of the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation suggests that frequent exercise can reduce the risk of death in men.

To examine the link between fitness and mortality, Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers gathered fitness data on 15,660 male VA patients undergoing treadmill testing for various medical reasons. The men, who had an average age of 60, where then assigned to one of four groups based on their level of fitness.

According to the results, mortality risk directly correlated with fitness level, with men in the highest fitness category being the least likely to die when compared to their less fit counterparts. For example, across the eight year study period, 44% of the men in the least fit group died, compared to 30% in the moderately fit group, 15% in the highly fit group, and 8% in the very highly fit group.

Noting that even 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week can reduce mortality risk by 50% or more, the lead author says “a little bit of exercise goes a long way.” His recommendations are also echoed by the director of the Cardiovascular Health Clinic at the Mayo Clinic, who notes that the study provides “more evidence that exercise is one of the best medicines we have.”

Here is another “No-Duh” study telling us what we already know: Exercise is good for you! Oh well. Maybe someone didn’t get the memo.

But on a more serious level, notice that the study didn’t recommend 30 minutes of running five days a week. This is the intermittent low-level aerobic activity we have been espousing on MDA for some time now. It is but one important aspect of a well-rounded and balanced exercise routine that accounts for both of our energy systems (see Mark’s “A Case Against Cardio“). This combined with weight-bearing exercise and periods of intense anaerobic activity provides an increase in fat-burning enzymes, muscle fiber strength, aerobic capacity, and offers a better quality of life (no more hours on the treadmill!) to name just a few of the benefits. More on intense anaerobic bursts from Mark later on today…

via AP

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  1. “Study Finds Exercise Prolongs Lifespan”

    Isn’t that title misleading? The study finds a correlation between exercise and lifespan, but causation? I count on you guys to *not* buy into the suspect reading of studies that’s rampant everywhere else. (If there *is* some proof of cause, I don’t see it. And would love to!)

    surplusj wrote on January 25th, 2008
  2. I see surplusj’s point. You could interpret the correlation thus: healthy people find it easier to exercise. And healthy people tend to live longer. Therefore, exercisers live longer. That is: health causes exercise, not the other way around.

    I think Mark is right – diet is the lion’s share of health. I certainly find it easier to get in my two to four miles of daily walking now that I eat properly.

    Migraineur wrote on January 25th, 2008
  3. Surplusj,

    You’re right. We need to take a step back on all these. Correlation does NOT necessarily imply causation. I’ll remind the worker bees.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 26th, 2008

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