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Exercise extends disease-free lifespan

By Connie Wan, P.h.D | August 1st, 2019

We all know the great many benefits of exercise.  

A study by researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Australia, further revealed that exercise cuts risk of chronic disease as we grow older.   Specifically, Australia study shows that people who engaged in the highest levels of total physical activity were twice as likely to avoid stroke, heart disease, angina, cancer and diabetes, and be in optimal physical and mental shape 10 years later.

The research compiled data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992, which is one of the world’s largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.  The researchers interviewed more than 1,500 Australian adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 10-year period. The data showed that adults who did more than 5000 metabolic equivalent minutes (MET minutes) each week saw the greatest reduction in the risk of chronic disease.  Essentially, this means that older adults who did the most exercise were twice as likely to be disease-free and fully functional.  The study showed that high levels of physical activity increase the likelihood of surviving an extra 10 years free from chronic diseases, mental impairment and disability.”

Currently, the World Health Organization recommends at least 600 MET minutes of physical activity each week. That is equivalent to 150 minutes of brisk walking or 75 minutes of running.  The Australia research findings suggest that physical activity levels need to be several times higher than what the World Health Organization currently recommends to significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Journal Reference:

  1. Bamini Gopinath, Annette Kifley, Victoria M. Flood, Paul Mitchell. Physical Activity as a Determinant of Successful Aging over Ten YearsScientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-28526-3