Running slows ageing


New York: Scientists at the Stanford University Medical Center have found that jogging can slow down the ageing process.

In a study that lasted two decades they found that elderly joggers were half as likely to die prematurely from conditions like cancer than non-runners.

They also enjoyed a healthier life with fewer disabilities, according to the study which is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The work tracked 500 older runners for more than 20 years, comparing them to a similar group of non-runners. All were in their 50s at the start of the study.

Nineteen years into the study, 34% of the non-runners had died compared to only 15% of the runners.

Both groups became more disabled with age, but for the runners the onset of disability started later – an average of 16 years later.

The health gap between the runners and non-runners continued to widen even as the subjects entered their ninth decade of life.

Running not only appeared to slow the rate of heart and artery related deaths, but was also associated with fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes.

And there was no evidence that runners were more likely to suffer osteoarthritis or need total knee replacements than non-runners – something scientists have feared.

At the beginning of the study, the runners ran for about four hours a week on average. After 21 years, their weekly running time had reduced to around 76 minutes, but they were still seeing health benefits from taking regular exercise.

Lead author Professor James Fries, emeritus professor of medicine at Stanford, said: “The study has a very pro-exercise message. If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.

“The health benefits of exercise are greater than we thought.”

Aerobic fitness can delay ageing by more than a decade


Toronto: Maintaining aerobic fitness could delay biological ageing by up to 12 years, concludes an analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, improves the body’s oxygen consumption and its use in generating energy (metabolism).

But maximal aerobic power starts to fall steadily from middle age, decreasing by around 5 ml/[kg.min] every decade.

When it falls below aound18 ml in men and 15 ml in women, it becomes difficult to do very much at all without severe fatigue.

In a typical sedentary man, the maximal aerobic power will have fallen to around 25 mil/[kg.min] by the age of 60, almost half of what it was at the age of 20.

But the evidence shows that regular aerobic exercise can slow or reverse the inexorable decline, even in later life.

Research shows that relatively high intensity aerobic exercise over a relatively long period boosted maximal aerobic power by 25%, equivalent to a gain of 6 ml/ [kg.min], or 10 to 12 biological years.

“There seems good evidence that the conservation of maximal oxygen intake increases the likelihood that the healthy elderly person will retain functional independence,” says the author, Dr Roy Shephard of the University of Toronto.

The other positive spin-offs of aerobic exercise are reduced risks of serious disease, faster recovery after injury or illness, and reduced risks of falls because of the maintenance of muscle power, balance, and coordination.

Reasons to exercise


Regular workouts help you resist and recover from ageing diseases.

Research shows that regular workouts not only keep you fit but also the body recover from life-threatening diseases. But workouts need to be geared to your body type and fitness level. If you’re overweight or have high blood pressure you should check with your GP that the exercise you plan is the right one. You may want to start off with a vigorous walk. Keeping fit can also help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, take off excess pounds and help with stress. Exercise also encourages the production of the human growth hormone, the decline of which contributes to ageing.

Most sports involve an element of risk especially if you are not fit at the start. These include sprains and strains (Achilles tendons are particularly vulnerable, in sports such as running or tennis), eye injuries (in fast ball games such as squash) to heart attacks and strokes. The ideal exercise programme is one that boosts cardiovascular (heart/ lung) fitness, improves flexibility and strength, relaxes you, burns fat and maintains bone mass – and that means a mixed fitness programme of an aerobic exercise with stretching such as Pilates or yoga. On sunny days you should use a UVA sunscreen.

10 Reasons to Exercise

1. Improves quality of life
2. Slows down the ageing process
3. Reduces the risk of heart disease
4. Reduces stress
5. Relieves depression
6. Good self-image
7. Improves quality of sleep
8. Assists mental altertness
9. Reduces risks of certain cancers
10. Increases good cholesterol
3. Relieves depression