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Maintaining an Active Lifestyle as You Get Older Can Help You Live Longer

August 19, 2023

Exercise in older age is proven to help people live longer. A 2022 study done reviewing studies of over 600,000 Chinese adults 55 or older has demonstrated a wide range of important benefits of exercise for quality of life and longevity.1 Chinese researchers at Hong Kong University have used a massive amount of data to show that a more active lifestyle by older adults improves life span. They explain, “Studies revealed that using low-to-moderate intensity physical activity regularly (i.e., leisure time exercise, Tai Chi, and walking) for a minimum of 3–5 times per week could lead to a decrease in mortality among older adults. Other than low-intensity physical activities, older adults who engaged in moderate physical activity demonstrated a much higher level of quality of life.” People over 55 who exercised regularly also were happier, had better sleep quality, and experienced less depression and anxiety. This shows that regular exercise crucial is to having a happy and healthy life.

More Vigorous Exercise is Especially Important to Longevity

Engaging in moderate to higher intensity exercise has especially positive impacts on the physical and mental health of older adults. The study says, “The older adults’ exercise duration, intensity, frequency, and volume had a critical impact on their level of quality of life (47). Furthermore, participants who maintained a high level of physical activity or raised their physical activity from low to high levels had a reduced risk of all-cause death. They were less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.” So, specifically for individuals aged 55 or older, a large body of research demonstrates that a high level of physical activity makes one less likely to die that those with lower levels of physical activity. This is an important reason why moderate to high-intensity exercise should be seen as key to increasing personal longevity.

Perhaps It’s Time to Start Swimming!

Swimming showed very crucial benefits, causing weight loss and large improvements in heart and lung health, and should be used by those who have the opportunity. The study shows, “Swimming, as another aerobic sport, significantly facilitates losing weight, lowering waist circumference, and avoiding the illnesses and discomfort that come with obesity. Elderly individuals’ cardiovascular systems and lung function were enhanced, as was their capacity to exercise. Swimming significantly enhanced the physical condition of the elderly and should be actively promoted in fitness and community activities.” Whatever exercise one uses, as long as it is engaged in regularly and with plenty of time per day, there will be improvements in a wide range of physical and mental health metrics. It’s important to stay active as we get older!

  1. Wong, M. Y. C., Ou, K., Chung, P., Chui, K. Y. K., & Zhang, C. (2023). The relationship between physical activity, physical health, and mental health among older Chinese adults: A scoping review. Frontiers in Public Health10