Physical activity promotes longevity
Higher levels of physical activity may help prolong healthy and chronic disease-free years in both men and women, but more in individuals with low than with high occupational status, a study reports.
The study included 34,379 women (mean age 53.2 years) and 8,381 men (mean age 53.6 years) from the Finnish Public Sector study. Self-reported physical activity levels (inactive to vigorously active) were categorized into three occupational statuses at the first observation point. Partial life expectancy (LE) between ages 50–75 years was defined using two health indicators (average follow-up time, 6.8 years): healthy LE based on self-rated health and chronic disease-free LE based on chronic diseases.
Results showed a clear dose–response relationship between higher physical activity levels and increased healthy and chronic disease-free LE in men and women, and within occupational statuses. Compared with inactive men and women, vigorously active individuals lived 6.3 years longer in good health and 2.9 years longer without chronic diseases between ages 50–75 years.
Of note, the beneficial effect of higher levels of physical activity on healthy LE was most pronounced in individuals with low occupation status (eg, maintenance workers and cleaners).
Researchers pointed out that the present data extend the findings that have shown physical activity to be associated with reduced prevalence of chronic diseases and lowered mortality risk in a dose–response manner.
Doing exercises and reducing sedentary time promote healthy ageing, primarily because physical activity improves endurance and strength, prevents falls, and protects against disability, cognitive decline and dementia among older people. [J Physiother 2012;58:145-156; Ageing Res Rev 2013;12:329-338; BMC Public Health 2014;14:510]