Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

New study claims that women need less exercise than men to live longer

A new study monitored the link between activity levels and lifespan in the elderly

Ascending stairs is an effective form of exercise as it pits our weight against gravity Getty
Ascending stairs is an effective form of exercise as it pits our weight against gravity Getty

An hour of exercise a day can significantly increase a woman’s chance of living until she is nineties, but any more than that can have a detrimental effect.

These are the findings of a new study, which also revealed that women who remain close to the weight they were aged 20 are more likely to live into their nineties.

The study

The study looked at the correlation between exercise levels and lifespan in 8,000 participants between the ages of 68 and 70.

A resident doing exercises in a gym at the Yanyuan community for senior citizens, on the outskirts of Beijing. 
A resident doing exercises in a gym at the Yanyuan community for senior citizens, on the outskirts of Beijing.

The participants provided information on their physical activity, height and weight when the study was first conducted in 1986. They were then monitored through until they reached age 90 or died – whichever came first.

Carried out by scientists from Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, the research separated participants into categories – those who did less than 30 minutes’ exercise, those who did between 30 and 60 minutes, those who did 60 to 90 minutes, and those who did 90 minutes or more.

Exercise in this instance included activities like walking the dog, DIY, gardening or cycling.

More than an hour of activity each day proved to have a negative impact on a woman's lifespan. AFP
More than 60 minutes of activity each day was proved to have a negative impact on a woman's lifespan. AFP

The findings

Results showed that women who gained less weight over the course of their lives were more likely to reach 90. Men, however, did not follow the same pattern. The data showed there was no added benefit to a man’s lifespan if he maintained the weight he was in his 20s.

However, men who did more than 60 minutes of exercise a day had 39 per cent more chance of living past 90, whereas the benefits for women decreased after 60 minutes. Between 30 and 60 minutes was shown to be the optimum exercise time for women, with participants in this category 21 per cent more likely to reach 90.

Of the 7,807 people monitored, 944 women and 433 men lived past 90.

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“Average life expectancy has risen over the past few decades, but has recently started to plateau in some developed nations, with increasing levels of obesity and physical inactivity thought to be behind the trend,” researchers said.

“While physical activity is linked to longer lifespans in both sexes, it seems the more time men spend physically active every day, the better it is for their chances of reaching old age, whereas 60 minutes a day was associated with the best chance for women, the findings indicate.”

Updated: January 22, 2019 04:40 PM

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