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Exercise can prolong your life says new heart and health study

New research from the USA has just come out which shows that older adults who participate in physical activity are less likely to die than ones who don’t. The new research also shows which types of exercise are especially beneficial.

Sports that use rackets, like tennis and squash, are most associated with the lowest risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is according to a recent study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study showed that people who play tennis, squash, or racquetball were roughly 25% less likely to die of cardiovascular ailments than those who don’t participate in regular recreational physical activities.

Man doing exercise inside a gymIn terms of other sports, and by comparison, golf was associated with a 9% reduction while regular walking was associated with an 11% reduction in risk for cardiovascular mortality.

Running or jogging was associated with the lowest odds of dying from cancer, with a 19% reduction in risk of death from cancer. For cyclists, the reduction in risk for cancer mortality was 6%.

Scientists from the American National Institute of Health (NIH) who analyzed the study data said that while not all sports provide equal benefits, it’s far better to choose a sport you enjoy which will result in you engaging in it for the long term.

“All types of activity were associated with lower mortality risk; therefore, finding an activity that older, inactive individuals enjoy (and so may sustain) is likely of a greater benefit than choosing a particular activity based on the differences between risk estimates,” they report.

The National Institute of Health is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It was founded in the late 1880s and is now part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

The seven different ways you can prolong your life and improve your heart health

To examine how various leisure time physical activities are associated with mortality risk, Eleanor L. Watts, DPhil, MPH, a researcher with the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 272,000 participants in a survey of adults ages 59-82 years conducted by the American National Institute of Health (NIH) and the AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons).

The AARP is an interest group in the United States focusing on issues affecting those over the age of fifty. The organization has more than 38 million members and the monthly magazine and bulletin it sends to its members are the two largest-circulation publications in the United States.

Based on the data from the survey the researchers assessed how seven types of exercise correlated with risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, or any cause during an average of 12 years of follow-up. They adjusted their estimates to account for participant characteristics and behaviors such as age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, smoking, health conditions, and sedentary time.

Every kind of exercise they looked at seemed to reduce all-cause mortality — by 16% for racquet sports, 15% for running, and 9% for walking.

Golf and “other” types of aerobic exercise (like aerobics class or using exercise machines) were tied to 7% reductions in risk. For swimming, the risk reduction was 5%. For cycling, it was 3%, according to the researchers.

Racket sports had the fewest participants (4% of the study population), while walking was the most common form of physical activity (78%). Other aerobic exercises (30%), cycling (25%), golf (14%), swimming (10%), and running (7%) followed.

What US doctors advise their cardiac patients to do in order to maintain a healthy heart

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous aerobic activity, each week.

If you have not been physically active for a long time and want to start exercising we do recommend that, but it may be prudent before you start doing any strenuous exercise that you contact us and have a checkup so we can establish your heart health, check your blood pressure, and give you some guidelines on how healthy your heart is and what type of exercise would work best for you based on your overall physical condition.

It’s also a good idea to establish a baseline of what your overall health is like before you start so that you can track your progress over time.