A Cambridge University Study of 15,000 40 to 79 years olds found that people who increase their activity levels later in life half the risk of an early death.
The government recommended activity levels are to carry out 30 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week (or twenty mins each day) and following this can reduce the risk of death by almost a quarter compared to inactive people. However particularly active people who undertake 42 minutes of exercise a day cut the risk of early death by a whopping 42%.
Activity measured included walking, cycling and oddly enough, office work which is great news for you standing desk heroes out there.
Very importantly the study found that people who hadn’t done any previous activity could also reap “substantial” benefits meaning it’s never too late to start increasing your movement irrespective of your previous relationship with exercise. (Mine is turbulent to say the least)
The research was held between 1993 and 1997 and participants followed until 2016. The timeframe has allowed researchers to extrapolate that activity levels over time and higher activity levels are both linked to living a longer life.
Participants who were inactive at the start of the study but worked up toward accomplishing the daily recommended exercise figures of 20 mins a day were able to cut their mortality rates by a quarter and the group who were highly active (60 mins activity a day) halved their mortality rates.
“These results are encouraging, not least for middle-aged and older adults with existing cardiovascular disease and cancer, who can still gain substantial longevity benefits by becoming more active, lending further support to the broad public health benefits of physical activity,” researchers said.
“In addition to shifting the population towards meeting the minimum physical activity recommendations, public health efforts should also focus on the maintenance of physical activity levels, specifically preventing declines over mid to late life.”
Hew Edwards from UKActive explained how this new evidence should be used to push back against the notion that older people should do less and said “Only by reimagining ageing, can our society reduce the growing burden on our NHS and social care systems.”
Louise Ansari, from the Centre for Ageing Better said “It’s not just about aerobic exercise like running or cycling. All adults should also do activities that boost their strength and balance twice a week.”
Standing desks encourage movement and help active people stay active. Whilst they are not a miracle cure they do encourage movement and fit excellently into a healthy lifestyle as part of the solution to today’s sedentary culture.
Increasing your exercise levels reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, cancer and depression. At an age where chance of dementia or Alzheimer’s increase older people who exercise have brains which are ten years younger so naturally staying active has mental health benefits too. So buff off those running shoes and get yourselves moving for the benefit of your body and your minds.