Longer lives tied to physical activity

New research shows why people live longer, and it’s likely because they are more physically active.

Researchers from Harvard University in the USA used evolutionary and biomedical evidence showing that people, who evolved to live many decades after they stopped reproducing, also evolved to be relatively active in their later years.

The researchers say that physical activity later in life shifts energy away from processes that can compromise health and toward mechanisms in the body that extend it.

ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says the exercise industry always knew physical activity was excellent for people’s longevity, but now they know why because of this research.

“The Harvard researchers hypothesise that people evolved to remain physically active as they age, and in doing so to allocate energy to physiological processes that slow the body’s gradual deterioration over the years.

“This guards against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. Their paper is the first detailed evolutionary explanation for why lack of physical activity as humans age increases disease risk and reduces longevity,” Beddie says.

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