People often look towards specific customs or pursuits to extend their lifespan and evidence increasingly shows that regular exercise holds the key to a long and fulfilling life.
As Harvard Health explains, one of the primary benefits of working out is that it boosts cardiovascular health, which plays a decisive role in determining how long a person will live.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK and exercise not only can help to ward off the threat of the deadly disease but also safeguard against the conditions that lead to it such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
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Mayo Clinic recommends aerobic activities to boost cardiovascular fitness and maintain heart health, and a recent study singles out a particular aerobic activity for its myriad health benefits.
According to a new study, a single weekly run could significantly lower your risk of death, and what’s more, scientists found any amount of running, fast or slow, was linked to a 27 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
The findings also revealed that a 50-minute run once per week at a speed below six miles per hour still seemed to be associated with significant health and longevity benefits.
The research associated running with a 30 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cancer.
To arrive at these conclusions, researchers looked at published research, conference presentations, doctoral theses and dissertations from academic databases.
They found 14 suitable studies involving more than 232,000 people, on the association between running or jogging and the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Participants’ health had been tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years, during which time, 25,951 of them had died. Pooled data showed any amount of running was linked with a 27 percent lower risk of death from all causes, for both men and women, compared with no running.
Commenting on the findings, Study author and associate professor Zeljko Pediscic, from Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, said: “If more people took up running, and they wouldn’t have to run far or fast, there would likely be substantial improvements in population health and longevity.
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Pediscic continued: “It’s not clear how good running is for staving off the risk of death from any cause and particularly from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“Nor is it clear how much running a person needs to do to reap these potential benefits, nor whether upping the frequency, duration, and pace might be even more advantageous.”
There was no lowered risk of mortality associated with upping the dose of exercise, however, noted the study authors.
Acknowledging the study’s limitations, the researchers pointed out that the observational study cannot establish cause, that the number of included studies was small and their methods varied considerably, which may have influenced the results.
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But they suggested that any amount of running is better than none, as Assistant Prof Pediscic pointed out: “Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity.”
A healthy diet can also help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop a person gaining weight – reducing their risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
According to the British Heart Foundation, a well-balanced diet should include at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, and you should try to vary the types of fruit and veg you eat.
The health body said: “They can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned. Pure unsweetened fruit juice, pulses and beans count as a portion, but they only make up a maximum of one of your five a day, however much you eat in one day.”
You should also cut on foods containing saturated fats as they can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease, notes the NHS.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood, and having high levels of cholesterol in the blood can act as a precursor to heart disease.
Saturated fat is found in:
- Butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil and palm oil
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Cured meats like salami, chorizo and pancetta
- Pastries, like pies, quiches, sausage rolls and croissants
- Cream, crème fraîche and sour cream
- Ice cream
- Coconut milk and cream
- Chocolate and chocolate spreads
The NHS added: “However, a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries.”
Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils
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