According to a powerful new study – the largest such study ever, middle aged to elderly men can slash their risk of premature death from all causes in half simply by taking a brisk, 30 minute walk at least 4 to 6 days a week. The investigators calculated the fitness levels of over 15,000 adult males through treadmill exercise testing sometime between 1983-2006 and assigned them depending on their results from “low fit” to “very high fit.” By tracking fatalities through June 2007, the scientists found that a study subject’s fitness level was more predictive of their future risk of death than blood pressure, body weight, or age. The most fit study subjects cut their risk of early death by a whopping 70%! (Circulation, February 2007)
A second compelling study, unique in that it included the effects of physical activity for several subgroups of the general population reported similarly remarkable findings. This study involved over 252,000 men and women ages 50 to 71 and found the risk of death was reduced by 50% in people who engaged in moderate activity (like brisk walking) 30 minutes at least five days a week or vigorous activity (enough to break a sweat) 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. Even those that did a little bit of moderate activity during the week were 19% less likely to die than those who were sedentary – in other words, some is always better than none at all (Archives of Internal Medicine, December 2007).
These two new studies are further confirmation of one of my favorite wellness soundbites – namely, “exercise is the magic bullet!” There is simply nothing else available to you – not nuts, not berries, or any combination of foods, nor prescription drugs, nor meditation, that can provide to your body what regular physical activity can. And it’s free (yet priceless). So as they say in the Nike ads – just do it!