GET PHYSICAL: Exercise Needed For Seniors, Study Finds


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It’s time to get off the couch and get some exercise, especially if you’re older.

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This is because humans have evolved to live longer, healthier lives through physical activity, even later in life, according to a recent study published in the American Scientific Journal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It is a common idea in Western societies that as you age it is normal to slow down, do less and retire,” said Daniel E. Lieberman, evolutionary biologist at Harvard, lead author of the article. . Recount The Harvard Gazette .

“Our message is the other way around: as we age, it becomes even more important to stay physically active.”

The study presents the evolutionary and biomedical evidence for human longevity that results from exercise.

Researchers suggest that physical activity essentially helps the body focus on the mechanisms that prolong its function and away from bodily processes that maintain weakened or damaged functions.

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This translates to a reduction in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers, according to the study.

The study compared humans to their ape cousins, who typically live 35 to 40 years in the wild and lead sedentary lives.

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“We basically evolved from couch potatoes,” Lieberman said. He went to Tanzania to observe wild chimpanzees and was surprised by the time they spent “sitting on their butt, digesting”.

Even though physical activity puts pressure on bones, muscles, and tissues, which can sometimes lead to injury, the body works to repair the damage by rebuilding them stronger.

This in turn causes the release of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and improves blood circulation. For people who are less active, these responses occur less frequently.

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The body’s repair processes may reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and depression, according to the study.

“The key point to remember is that because we have evolved to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well. In the past, daily physical activity was necessary for survival, but today we have to choose to exercise, that is, to do voluntary physical activity for health and fitness reasons. physical, ”Lieberman said.

And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to realize the benefits of being active.

“The key is to do something and try to make it enjoyable to keep doing it,” Lieberman said. “… Even small amounts of physical activity – just 10 or 20 minutes a day – dramatically reduces your risk of death. “

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