Written by Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS. In a study of 5,738 men, researchers found that 30 minutes of physical activity per day, 6 days per week significantly reduced the overall risk of death (mortality) by 49%.
Jack LaLanne once said “Exercise is king, nutrition is queen. Put them together and you have a kingdom.” Research has found that exercise decreases overall risk of death by as much as 60% (1, 2), including the elderly (3), for those who exercise regularly compared to those who do not. When it comes to quitting smoking and reducing your risk of death, a 2008 study found that within 5 years of quitting smoking, risk of death from all causes drops by 13%, from heart disease by 47%, and from stroke by 25% (4).
Now a new study (5) suggests that increasing physical activity and quitting smoking may carry similar health benefits. In the study, researchers analyzed data from the Oslo I and II Cardiovascular Disease Study. Eligible subjects who were initially recruited between in 1972 for the Oslo I study (14,846 men) (6) were brought back for a follow-up exam in 2000 for the Oslo II study (5,738 men) (7). Physical activity was assessed with the Gothenburg questionnaire (8) which has been validated in previous research (9).
The researchers found that 30 minutes of physical activity per day, 6 days per week produced a 49% reduction in overall risk of death (mortality) (p < 0.001). For those who did vigorous activity (defined as “hard training or competitive sports regularly several times a week”), this added up to living 5 years longer than those who were sedentary (“reading, watching television or other sedentary occupation”). When they looked at men who had a history of smoking and smoking cessation, they found “the degree of physical activity at leisure was almost as predictive as smoking with regard to the effects on mortality” and that “Increase in physical activity was as beneficial as smoking cessation in reducing mortality.”
The researchers went on to conclude that “Increased physical activity was as beneficial as smoking cessation in reducing all-cause mortality” and that “Public health strategies to reduce risk in elderly men should concentrate highly on promoting increased physical activity in their action plans.” But a note of caution should be made that this is an observational study, so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. The researchers also pointed out that only the healthiest participants from Oslo I took part in Oslo II, so this may have lowered overall absolute risk of death between smoking cessation and physical activity.
Source: Holme, I., and Sigmund Alfred Anderssen. “Increases in physical activity is as important as smoking cessation for reduction in total mortality in elderly men: 12 years of follow-up of the Oslo II study.” British journal of sports medicine 49.11 (2015): 743-748.
Posted June 2, 2015. r/aj
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com.
- Holme I, Helgeland A, Hjermann I, et al. Physical activity at work and at leisure in relation to coronary risk factors and social class. A 4-year mortality follow-up. The Oslo study. Acta Med Scand 1981;209:277–83
- Wisloff U, Nilsen TI, Droyvold WB, et al. A single weekly bout of exercise may reduce cardiovascular mortality: how little pain for cardiac gain? ‘The HUNT study, Norway’. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 2006;13:798–804
- Almeida OP, Kahn KM, Hnakey G, et al. 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week predicts survival and successful ageing: a population-based 11-year longitudinal study of 12 201 older Australian men. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:220–5
- “Quite Smoking: Death Drops Fast” from WebMD May 5, 2008
- Leren P, Askevold EM, Foss OP, et al. The Oslo Study, cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and young Oslo men. Acta Med Scand 1975;588 (Suppl):1–38
- Holme I, Tonstad S, Sogaard AJ, et al. Leisure time physical activity in middle age predicts the metabolic syndrome in old age: results of a 28-year follow-up of men in the Oslo study. BMC Public Health 2007;7:154
- Saltin B, Grimby G. Physiological analysis of middle-aged and old former athletes. Circulation 1968;38:1104–15
- Aires N, Selmer R, Thelle D. The validity of self-reported leisure time physical
- activity, and its relationship to serum cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index. A population based study of 332,182 men and women aged 40–42 years. Eur J Epidemiol 2003;18:479–85.