Longevity implies living a longer life. It is ultimately what each and every one of us wishes for, isn’t it? Living longer is the go-to reason for the majority of people to start practicing some form of physical activity, be it strength training or cardiovascular training. But does it make sense and is exercise really the key to longevity?
The obvious answer is yes.
Luckily for us, plenty of research has been conducted on the topic of longevity and its ties with fitness. This correlation is a very popular topic in the field of science. People are trying to figure out as much as they possibly can about how we can extend our lifespan and working out seems to be one of the most efficient ways we know of.
Our doctors and health specialists prescribe the following: optimal nutrition, proper supplementation, regular sleeping patterns, exercise, etc. We all know that these constitute healthy habits and make our lives longer. Fairly simple stuff we can and should do every single day if we want longevity. However, physical activity might turn out to be the single most important link to the longevity chain. When asked about the topic of longevity, Dr. Peter Attia says:
“I think exercise is the single most important longevity drug we have… What do I need to do If I want to live longer? A super well-crafted exercise program that is geared towards strength, muscle mass, and cardiorespiratory fitness…”Peter Attia, famous for his work and research in the science of longevity
Such a claim is completely legitimate. Sure, longevity isn’t achieved through only one lens and it isn’t achieved through one form of exercise. We’re dealing with a wide topic here with plenty of facets. But if we had to choose the most important one, the clear victor would be physical activity.
How much activity do we need?
How much of each type of activity do we need? That’s our next question. Well, we have some markers and they’re more accurate than one would believe right off the bat. There are some numbers you can follow once it comes to measuring the right amounts of working out you ought to put in. Let’s see what they are.
First, let’s start with cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). “Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) refers to the capacity of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to skeletal muscle mitochondria for energy production needed during physical activity”. Levels of CRF scale with your level of fitness, therefore, the fitter you are the higher the CRF levels.
A recommended minimum of cardio workouts that will increase longevity is 4 workout sessions a week that last for 45 minutes. In the case of deconditioned individuals that number can go even lower, down to 3 sessions lasting 30 minutes. Now, this number will obviously vary since not everyone measures his or her workout time so strictly. But also, the duration and frequency of your sessions can be changed. It doesn’t have to be in the exact way which we’ve just suggested. You can have fewer sessions that are longer or shorter sessions but more than 3-4 times a week, for example.
However, you also need strength training if you wish to reap all the benefits that physical exercise has to offer. Developing muscle mass through strength training has incredible value for our health. That is why you need some sort of gym sessions two to three times a week two. Now, this doesn’t have to be a full-on bodybuilding workout. Just performing a few simple exercises which activate your whole body should be just fine.
The whole point of the variety when it comes to exercise is to activate your muscles in a different fashion. The idea behind different kinds of exercises is one tightly embedded in our nature – adaptation. The more adaptive we are the more likely it is that we will live longer, roughly speaking. To top off that argument, we also want to add balance and elasticity to the mix, meaning stretching and some coordination exercises are more than welcome to the workout regimen.
Which sport should I choose?
There is something you should be fully aware of once approaching the sessions, and that’s the intensity that you need. Workout intensity is generally categorized as either vigorous or moderate. What we’re searching for here is vigorous physical activity. In very simple terms, you need workouts that will make you sweat.
Cycling is very popular amongst the choices since you can mix it up in all kinds of ways. If the weather is bad you can cycle inside on a stationary bike, and if you feel like exploring nature or driving downtown, you can take it outside as well. Fast-paced walking or jogging/running is the second most popular option since it’s something people like to make a habit out of. Beware that running can be taxing on your joints in comparison to some other cardio exercises such as cycling or swimming.
Of course, you can play any sports since they too raise your CRF. Interestingly enough, there are a few studies pointing to the fact that group sports can actually aid in longevity more than individual sports. Sports such as tennis, basketball, soccer, and others have been showing significant results in postponing mortality.
Come to think of it, this doesn’t surprise us so much. As we’ve briefly mentioned before, longevity is a topic dependent on all sorts of variables and the aspect of physical exercise is only one of them. Being a part of a group and socializing is extremely important for nurturing positive feelings and that’s exactly what group sports do.
However, if for any reason whatsoever you cannot endure vigorous physical activity that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform moderate types. Everyone should give as much as they can. Going for a simple walk, cleaning around the house, performing chores… all of these are considered physical exercise as well.
Perhaps the amount of work we’ve suggested here might be a bit overwhelming for you and we understand that. It is a lot of work, especially if you’re a newcomer. Performing regular physical activity almost every single day isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone.
But, remember that having any type of workout is better than having none! This is perhaps the single most important fact to take from this article. No matter how obvious it seemed, plenty of people forget that a simple walk in a park can make a substantial difference in fighting illness.
We live in a sedentary culture. Even though it has brought us some amazing benefits and our lives are easier now than ever, there are still a few downsides to it, just like there are to any culture. Sitting for the majority of our days means we’re prone to certain diseases and we have to try our best in order to postpone or completely repel them. Whatever is in our power. Performing a couple of exercises is doing exactly that. The key to longevity starts with understanding how little it takes to start with making a positive change in your life.
Thank you all for reading!
- Exercise and longevity – ScienceDirect
- Light, Moderate, And Vigorous Activity (sdstate.edu)