The statistics are stunning. Current research on the impact of exercise on health, tracking 660,000 people from the United States and Sweden, and using 150 minutes of moderate walking per week as a guideline, says that participants, who were compared to people who didn’t exercise at all, had a 20% lower risk of dying during the follow-up period of up to 14 years.
A recent article in The American Journal of Medicine, reporting on the work of Dr. Harvey B. Simon, who analyzed several studies, says that even moderate physical activity of one hour a week pointed to lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death from all causes.
Studies of the benefits of walking for older people have existed for decades, claiming that a daily walk can reduce the risk of stroke and days spent in the hospital, and even lower the risk of death by up to 39%, when compared to having no physical activity.
Just 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise could extend the lifetimes of people by an average of 3 years longer than the lives of inactive participants, a study suggests, adding that increasing the amount of exercise lowered the risk even more (31% for 30 minutes a day, and 39% for 75 minutes).
Okay, that’s enough of that—you get the picture! During these past few days, with New Years’ resolutions featured in the media. and the nation’s gyms rapidly filling up, you might be giving exercise a thought or two. You might be considering fitting a daily walk into your day. And some of you, who may have already developed a habit of walking, may be deciding to step it up a little.
Do not doubt the statistics!
Or you may be looking at the statistics on exercising with a baleful eye, thinking that it’s fine for younger people, but it’s a waste of time for people like you, who are over 65—you prefer the couch on these cold days of winter, or you might join that gym later on, when it’s not so crowded. Or you may have health problems, and believe that you are too old, and it’s too late to reverse them.
But that is just not the case, health professionals say. Given the right intervention, and the right dedication, even diabetes can be reversed, and blood pressure and other dangerous heart issues can be halted. No matter what your age, no matter how you have abused your body—you can still make major changes in your health.
The health industry is fascinated with longevity. Researchers and writers follow it closely. Sandra Gordon, author and freelance writer for Prevention Magazine, says this:
“In the 20th century, the average life expectancy shot up 30 years—the greatest gain in 5,000 years of human history. And Centenarians—folks who make it into the triple digits—aren’t such an exclusive club anymore, increasing 51% from 1990 to 2000.
Advances in health, education, and disease prevention and treatments are high on the list—and that makes sense. But what you may not know is that seemingly unimportant everyday habits, or circumstances in your past, can influence how long and how well you’ll live.”
Yes, records do show that we are living longer than ever. Modern medicine has had a large part in this, but I believe that knowledge is also a big factor. And with knowledge and education comes an appreciation of not only a longer life, but a better quality of life.
The simplest approach is the best approach
I for one, am not content to live out my days, resting, as they say, on my laurels, LOL! Over the years, I have developed a habit of exercising. I have joined yoga, worked out at a gym, done aerobics (remember that craze?) gone dancing, always in the search for some exercise that would motivate me to effortlessly keep on moving. Like everyone, I’ve had periods when I felt I was too busy (or too unmotivated) to seek out these activities, so I would just open the door and walk.
Here’s the thing—walking is the only activity that stuck. It requires no equipment, no complex arrangements, no expense. So I’m still doing it…putting one foot in front of the other down the path, down the sidewalk, down the parkway, where ever I can find a space, and fresh air beckons. As Ellen DeGeneres says,
“My grandmother started walking 5 miles a day when she turned 60. She’s 97 now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”