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Kiwis need to exercise more to live longer


Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Middle aged New Zealanders could add years to their lives just by getting off the couch and going for a walk every day, though it wouldn’t hurt to do even more, a new study says.

Researchers followed more than 100,000 Americans for decades and found what many have shown before.People who exercise as much as health experts recommend tend to live longer.

According to those recommendations, adults should strive to exercise moderately for 150 to 300 minutes a week, through activities like brisk walking.

The other option is to go for sweatier activities, like jogging or biking at a fast clip, for 75 to 150 minutes each week.

In the study, middle aged people who met those goals were about 20 percent less likely to die over the next 30 years.

But while hitting those goals was good, the study found, surpassing them was a bit better.

People who regularly got two to four times the recommended amount of exercise, moderate or vigorous, shaved a few more percentage points from their risk of dying during the study period.

Experts stressed that the most important thing is to get moving regularly, as doable amounts of activity are better than none at all.

However, to get maximal benefit in terms of longevity, it’s a good idea to spend more time being active, the Harvard School of Public Health researchers say.

The findings, published this week in the journal Circulation, is based on two long-running health studies. At the outset in the 1980s, participants completed questionnaires on their lifestyle habits and medical histories, and then repeated that every two years.

Over the next 30 years, just under 47,600 participants died. That risk was lower among people who’d been regularly active over time, when factors like body weight, diet habits and smoking were taken into account.

People who met the recommended exercise amounts were about 25 percent to 31 percent less likely to die of heart disease or stroke, versus their sedentary peers. Their risk of death from non-cardiovascular causes was also cut, by 15 percent to 20 percent.

For exercisers who were surpassing the recommended amounts by two to four times, the longevity benefits were a bit larger.