A study that was published in the May 1998 issue of the British medical journal Lancet (1) found that taking up or maintaining light to moderate physical activity reduces heart attacks and extends the life span for middle aged to older men. It is interesting to note that this began as a heart disease study, but it ended up finding that exercise extends life and reduces heart attacks in all men, with or without heart disease.
The research spanned 20 years. The Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences at the Royal Free Hospital in London conducted it. Beginning in 1978, almost 8,000 men, aged 40 to 59 were selected from 24 British towns and enrolled in the study. The researchers kept track of their physical activity and exercise information.
The men who were sedentary, inactive, and who did a lot of sitting, at the beginning of the study in 1978, and who began at least light activity by 1992, had a significantly lower death rate from all causes than those who remained sedentary.
The study concluded that taking up or maintaining light physical activity improved the life span and reduced heart attacks for both groups of men (those who had heart disease and those who didn’t). These results are actually quite sweeping. By doing some light to moderate exercise you will strengthen your heart and increase your life!
1. Wannamethee SG, Shaper AG, Walker M, *Changes in physical activity, mortality, and iincidence of coronary heart disease in older men*. Lancet,1998 May 30;351(9116):1603-8