Researchers using a sophisticated test have found that any kind of exercise will help to prolong your life.
According to lead researcher, Todd M. Manini, an exercise physiologist at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, "There are plenty of reports out there saying that self-reported exercise like running or jogging is beneficial. We wanted to see if just usual daily activity had a protective value."
His research team conducted a six-year study on 302 people between 70 and 82 years of age and concluded that any sort of energy expenditure through physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death.
While the results of the research has not exactly been a new revelation what was unusual about this study was the exquisitely detailed measurements used to determine levels of physical activity. The results of the research have been published in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the study, volunteers were made to drink water containing two harmless isotopes, oxygen-18 and hydrogen-2. Oxygen-18 is eliminated from the body in water, while hydrogen-2 is eliminated in water as well as in carbon dioxide that is produced during energy expenditure. So accurate readings of daily energy expenditure was obtained by measuring levels of water and carbon dioxide leaving the body.
Manini said, "The technique has been around for use in humans for 20 years. "It is kind of expensive for a large-scale study, and also requires special expertise."
Study of the participants for a period of six years revealed that death rates went down as daily energy expenditure went up. In fact, it was found that seniors in the highest third of daily energy expenditure had a 69 percent lower risk of death than those in the lowest third.
As Manini said, "The study doesn't tell you what the people did -- just the quantity of energy expended". The method of energy expenditure was not taken into account, that is whether it was daily chores or a workout at the gym that had led to it. He said, "Like other studies, we asked people what they did. There was no difference with or without structured exercise."
He also said that people in the highest third of expended energy were more likely to work for pay and walk two flights of stairs a day. It was found that they burned an average of 600 calories more a day than those in the lowest third.
According to Manini the 600 calories represents "about two hours of activity," Manini said. "It doesn't have to be a certain activity. It can include washing dishes, vacuuming and sweeping, as well as structured exercise."
Co-researcher Dr. James Everhart, chief of the epidemiology and clinical trials branch of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said, "We were quite surprised to find this effect with a relatively small number of participants, When we started talking about it, maybe 10 years ago, we thought we would need twice as many participants to show an effect."
Everhart said that the study had objectively shown that energy use is associated with a lower risk of dying.
The American Heart Association -suggests several ways to achieve this goal without actually exercising including walking the dog, pushing a lawnmower rather than riding one, parking on the far side of the shopping center and walking to the store, and standing rather than sitting while talking on the telephone.