Regular low intensity exercise can get you “Olympic Longevity!”

A recent article in the New York Times  talks about the longevity benefits experienced by Olympians compared to non-Olympians in two studies that appear in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal.  One of the two studies showed that Olympians lived an average of 2.8 years longer than their non-Olympian counterparts and 13 percent were alive 30 years after their Olympic performance.  Even more impressive to me, was what can be concluded from the second sited study from the BMJ,  “athletes from disciplines with moderate cardiovascular intensity or high cardiovascular intensity were similar,” in terms of their lifespans, to “athletes from disciplines with low cardiovascular intensity.” Cyclists, rowers, runners, cricketers and golfers who competed at the Olympics all enjoyed similar lifespans. The study’s results seem to show the cardiovascular and health benefits of endurance and mixed sports are greater than the health benefits of power sports, at least in terms of longevity. While many will say that is debatable, take it for what it is worth…even a low intensity regular exercise can go a long way to help you increase your lifespan!

This is of particular interest to me when it comes to this time of year when people are setting lofty New Year’s resolutions with their fitness, nutrition and wellness goals.  Many think they have to set the bar really high, perform high intensity workouts to achieve their wellness/longevity goals and often quit before Valentine’s day, when this study shows us that high-intensity competitive activity was in fact no better than much less strenuous pursuits at increasing lifespans.  It really is simple for the unconditioned population…get moving with walking, golfing or recreational cycling “…and that will probably help us live just about as long as those (Olympic) sporting superstars.”

About cvolgraf

Senior Exercise Physiologist and Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Princeton Longevity Center
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