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Walking and Exercise Add Healthy Years to Life

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Updated November 20, 2005

Updated November 20, 2005
If you want to live healthier longer, start now with daily walking or exercise. A study in the November 14, 2005 "Archives of Internal Medicine" showed that exercise levels directly related to years lived without cardiovascular disease.

30 Minutes of Walking a Day Adds 1.3 Healthy Years

A moderate level of physical activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, lengthened life by 1.3 years and added 1.1 more years without cardiovascular disease, compared with those with low activity levels. Those who chose a high physical activity level gained 3.7 years of life and added 3.3 more years without cardiovascular disease.

Invest a Little Time for a Better Future

An editorial in the "Washington Post" did the math - invest 30 minutes of walking a day and you'll spend 49 days of the next 12 years of your life walking to gain 1.3 healthy years. That's a great payoff, considering that it is also likely the walking will help you keep off fat and improve your mood.

Spend Time in Exercise or Spend Later Battling Disease

If you wait until you develop a health problem, you will be spending more than 30 minutes a day on drugs, surgery and recovery, treatments, getting the medical bills paid, going to appointments, and making your final arrangements. Instead, spend those 30 minutes a day beforehand in an exercise you enjoy. If walking doesn't work for you, try biking or swimming. If walking is too mild, try running.

Even One More Healthy Year is of Great Value

If you hate exercise, imagine how much more you will hate surgery and all of the bottles of expensive pills you must take. Giving yourself an extra healthy year, or two, or three is well worth it.

Research Details

Oscar H. Franco, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus M.C. University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a study that has followed 5,209 residents of Framingham, Mass., over the past 46 years. The researchers calculated the effects of low, moderate, or high levels of physical activity, adjusted for age, sex, smoking, and diseases including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, left ventricular hypertrophy, ankle edema, and pulmonary disease. They concluded, "Our study suggests that following an active lifestyle is an effective way to achieve healthy aging."

Get Started Towards a Longer, Healthier Life

Walking for the Absolute Beginner
How to Walk Faster

Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2005 Nov 14; 165(20): 2355-2360

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