If you’re a baby boomer and you could get some regular exercise but don’t, you’re not doing yourself a favor. That’s why, although here at BoomerCafé we don’t endorse prescriptions for health, we looked at this from Dean Neuls of Vancouver, British Columbia — he is the co-founder of AlgaeCal — and decided to pass it on to you.
It’s no surprise that exercise can help you live longer.
But you might be surprised to know scientists are zeroing in on which activities are best for prolonging life.
Case in point: a large study of 80,306 British and Scottish adults with an average age of 52. The study’s findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM).¹ Each adult was tracked for 9 years. Over that time, each reported the activity they engaged in over the previous 4 weeks.
Researchers looked at six different sports to see which had the best long-term health effects on participants. They then compared participants’ questionnaire answers to those who hadn’t exercised.
Researchers calculated an “all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality risk” for the different sports. In other words, they calculated which activities had the greatest likelihood to contribute to a prolonged life. After 9 years, the researchers found the following…
Compared with participants who hadn’t exercised at all, these sports had the highest rate of prolonged life:
- Racquet sports: 47%
- Swimming: 28%
- Aerobics (gymnastics, dancing for fitness, etc.): 27%
- Cycling: 15%
Now, these findings aren’t absolutes — and you should always talk to your doctor for best exercise advice — but they may be helpful. If you’re not sure which activities to focus on, scientific findings like these are at least a step in the right direction.
Another common concern around exercise is the intensity. That is, are higher-intensity activities more beneficial for long-term health?
The BJSM study attempted to discern that too. But again, there were no absolutes. With some sports, it was the greater the intensity, the more longevity. With others, it was the greater the intensity, the lower the longevity compared to low intensity.
Researchers cautioned that more studies are needed to support their findings.
But whatever exercise you do, you can’t go wrong with the weight-bearing kind. (That is, anything going against gravity — even simply jogging, walking, or lunges.) Not only does it get your heart working, it’s welcome activity for your bones.
The more you “challenge” your bones in this way, the stronger they get. It’s just like building more muscle!
So get out there and get your blood flowing. Your bones will thank you for it.
More often than not, if you treat your body right, it’ll pay you back over your lifetime.