Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fat or not, the fit live longest!

I mentioned in my previous post that exercise promotes immunity, just one more reason to dance as if your life depends on it. Exercise scientists set out to study the association between cardiorespiratory fitness, extra weight, and the predisposition to keel over dead in older adults. They enrolled 2600+ adults aged 60 or older in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, poked, prodded, measured, and then watched their subjects' survival stats over 22 years. Here's what they found:

In conclusion, in this prospective study of adults 60 years or older, low fitness predicted higher risk of all-cause mortality after adjustment for potential confounding factors, including adiposity. Fit individuals had greater longevity than unfit individuals, regardless of their body composition or fat distribution...It may be possible to reduce all-cause death rates among older adults, including those who are obese, by promoting regular physical activity, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week which will keep most individuals out of the low-fitness category(1).

So here's what I hear: "I'm so discouraged. I've been working out for a month now and I haven't lost any weight." A couple of points: 1) Working out at the rate of 20 minutes on a treadmill 3 days per week is insufficient to promote fitness or weight loss, though theoretically it's better than nothing at all, and 2) If you are on the road to fitness with sufficient cardiovascular workouts, you are promoting good long-term health--and survival--whether or not you lose weight. All-cause mortality is just that, death from any cause whether it be heart attack, stroke, cancer, or sepsis from an overwhelming infection with some nasty, multi-drug resistant bacteria.

What's on your New Year's resolution agenda?
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(1) Sui, X, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity as mortality predictors in older adults. JAMA 2007 Dec 5;298(21):2507-16.

5 comments:

JeanMac said...

I do 30 min. at 3mph 6 or 7 days a week (on my treadmill) - cut my food portions back a wee bit and no wine or desserts. Lost 29 pounds (painlessly) since June 15/08.
Everyone tells me to go faster speed but I'm 63 and creaky. I will probably extend the time and a bit of speed over the next months.

Ruth said...

I am a walker and was doing 5km most days at a good pace for the past few years. But now I have to find different ways to get an aerobic workout as I can not walk quickly right now or do a lot of steps. The exercise bike is my best alternative at this time. I have to split my activity time into more frequent and smaller time periods.

Reality Man said...

"Twenty minutes" is not a "rate."

femail doc said...

Jean and Ruth: Bike, walk, treadmill, you Canadian women not only keep fit but keep warm by doing so!

RM: Well, another gaffe then. First I put food on my family at the dinner table, then misspeak on my blog.

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