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Research shows that lifestyle interventions can effectively prolong our life and health span. One key intervention is exercise, but what type and combination are most effective, and why does exercise help add years to our lives? In a recent podcast episode, Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz and Dr. Edwina (Eddie) Brocklesby discuss the link between exercise and living a long and healthy life. Dr. del Pozo Cruz has conducted studies on the relationship between exercise and mortality risk, while Dr. Brocklesby, known as “Iron Gran,” completed an Ironman Triathlon at 72 years old and is the founder of Silverfit, a fitness promotion organization.

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. del Pozo Cruz and his team analyzed data from over 500,000 participants to determine how different forms of exercise relate to mortality risk. They found that a balanced combination of moderate aerobic exercise, vigorous aerobic exercise, and muscle-strengthening activity was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Specifically, around 75 minutes of moderate exercise, more than 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, and at least a couple of strength training sessions per week were optimal for reducing mortality risk.

For reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease specifically, the researchers recommended combining moderate physical activity with vigorous exercise and strength training sessions. Dr. del Pozo Cruz’s team also found that engaging in vigorous exercise for only 2 minutes a day can help decrease the risk of death related to cancer or cardiovascular events. Their research suggests that any amount of exercise is better than none, with even small amounts of vigorous activity proving beneficial. This underscores the importance of regular physical activity in maintaining overall health and longevity.

While any form of exercise can have health benefits, it is important to consider potential risks associated with physical activity, especially in certain work environments. Intensive physical activity in jobs such as nursing, retail, and farming has been linked to a higher risk of cognitive impairment and other health conditions. Additionally, exercise for leisure can impact joint integrity, particularly later in life. Both Dr. del Pozo Cruz and Eddie emphasized the importance of consulting with a healthcare provider to determine the best exercise regimen for individual needs and circumstances.

In conclusion, research supports the idea that simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise can help prolong life and reduce the risk of premature death. Different forms of exercise, including moderate aerobic activity, vigorous aerobic exercise, and strength training, can contribute to overall health and longevity. While any amount of physical activity is beneficial, it is essential to consider potential risks associated with certain types of activities, particularly in high-intensity work environments. By incorporating regular exercise into our daily routines and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, we can take positive steps towards living longer and healthier lives.

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