11/16/2005: Just What Couch and *Mouse* Potatoes Need to Hear...
"Sorry, couch potatoes -- the verdict is in: People who exercise regularly really do live longer.
In fact, people who get a good workout almost daily can add nearly four years to their life spans, according to the first study to quantify the impact of physical activity this way.
The researchers looked at records of more than 5,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans and found that those who had moderate to high levels of activity lived 1.3 to 3.7 years longer than those who got little exercise, largely because they put off developing heart disease -- the nation's leading killer. Men and women benefited about equally.
In addition, recent studies have also found that exercise has payoffs for the mind, too. It has been shown to improve overall well-being, reduce stress and depression, and cut the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, several experts said.
"The benefits of physical activity extend well beyond the effects on longevity," said JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The trouble is, many people seem to ignore the evidence, government recommendations and public health campaigns to be physically active.
Most Americans still fail to exercise regularly, and the number who exercise in their leisure time has been dropping, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Franco and others noted that this and other studies show that people do not have to be exercise fanatics to reap the benefits. Adding just a little activity to the daily routine can have major benefits.
"What we're talking about is small changes," Hill said. "We're telling people to get out and walk more. Fifteen, 20 or 30 minutes of walking each day is probably enough."
Karen on 11.16.05 @ 05:06 AM CST