A German study recently published in the latest issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International reveals a link between lifestyle and exercise.
Sports scientists have revealed that impairments to health and physical performance are not primarily a result of aging but of bad lifestyle habits and lack of exercise.
Dieter Leyk and his team analyzed the stamina of more than 600, 000 marathon and half marathon runners and asked them about their lifestyle habits and their health.
Marathon running is particularly suitable for studying because participants have to put in sufficient training hours for the competition, and the athletes accommodate this into their day accordingly.
The scientists found that unfavorable characteristics such as obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity were rare in runners, and reductions in physical performance were more likely to be the result of biological aging processes.
These reductions make their presence felt only after the 54th year of life and are but slight. More than 25 per cent of 50- to 69-year-olds had taken up running only in the preceding 5 years and participated in a marathon nonetheless. You can see this connection highlighted in the short video on oomphtv.com about the 94 year old runner Jack Kirk-The Dipsea Demon.
Something to think about when making your New Year’s resolution.
The researchers were among two dozen USC faculty who spoke at the April 20 conference, “What’s Hot in Aging Research at USC: Interdisciplinary Perspectives,” hosted by the USC Davis School of Gerontology and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research Advancement. Demographer Eileen Crimmins warned that the U.S. is falling behind other developed countries.
“Life expectancy is low in the U.S. and has been getting worse, relative to other countries like us. For a country that is the richest in the world and spends the most on health care, you might think that we’d do a little better,” Crimmins said.
World leaders in life expectancy include Japan, France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.
Health care reform will help slightly, Crimmins said. Smoking, obesity, economic disparity and other deep cultural problems have a greater impact on life span. More than health care reform, the nation needs health reform, Crimmins told the nearly full auditorium at the Andrus Gerontology Center.
According to Crimmins, one of the biggest influences on life span is the inequality in health and mortality between the top and bottom of society, which is greater than in other countries.“People who are poor and have low education live different lives,” she said, regardless of their race.
Crimmins’ frequent collaborator, University Professor and neurobiologist Caleb Finch, described a future in which most people will lead less healthy lives than the wealthy few, due to rising health care costs and uneven environmental conditions. His current research studies possible links between air quality and brain development.
“There are very powerful counter longevity forces that are building. Future benefits of longevity may be limited to a very small privileged group of people,” he said.
However, you can make a difference in your own life, no matter who you are. 50% of the factors that influence your own life span, is your own behavior, according to Walter Bortz, MD, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University. Please read “Tips on how to be 100” These are very simple tips we all can learn from.
We need to examine the current data coming out of the Universities and learn from what they are telling us.