Throughout our journey to better health and wellbeing, many of us are primarily driven by the desire to look our best. But there’s an underlying, more profound motivation to stay committed to the gym, the trail, and a nutritious plate…and that is longevity (Health Span). It’s all about ensuring we live not just longer, but healthier and fuller…so we can actively play with our future grandkids if we are blessed enough to have them.
A recent experience underscores the profound impact of a lifetime dedicated to health. At 44 years old, after years of consistent weight training, cardio exercises, and mindful eating, I found myself needing to shift 5 tonnes of soil and grass… by wheelbarrow… in a single day.
But the thing that struck me was that, remarkably, the next day (and the day after ‘the day after’), I was up and about, without a problem. This is a testament to the power of consistent dedication to my health and wellbeing over the long haul...paying into my retirement fund with more than just money!!!
The Science of Longevity:
It's essential to understand early on that this commitment to health goes beyond surface-level aesthetics. The scientific world offers robust evidence pointing to the numerous benefits of regular exercise (Aerobic and Anaerobic) and a balanced diet.
Muscle Matters: Resistance training, like weightlifting, improves muscle mass and bone density. This not only keeps us strong but also helps prevent osteoporosis and frailty in later years. Remember, no one ever said, "I wish I was frailer in my golden years."
While aerobic exercise has long been associated with reducing diabetes risk, a paper by Grøntved et al., indicates that resistance training also has a profound protective effect. Combining cardio with strength training offers the best protection, underscoring the importance of a comprehensive fitness regime for longevity and disease prevention.
A later study by Grøntved & Hu, expanding on their previous works, suggests that engaging in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities is associated with a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes. It also suggests that when combined with aerobic exercise, the protective benefits increase, emphasizing the synergy between the two exercise forms.
Heart and Hustle: Cardiovascular workouts, such as running or swimming, strengthen the heart, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and even combat cognitive decline. If you've ever wanted to be that cool 90-year-old who remembers everyone's name at the family reunion, cardio’s your ticket! In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), individuals with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had lower rates of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events. The research suggests that improving fitness through regular aerobic exercises can significantly enhance lifespan and reduce cardiovascular complications.
In a comprehensive review by Warburton et al., it was highlighted that physical activity, both aerobic and resistance-based, can significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity can all be positively impacted. Importantly, even low to moderate amounts of physical activity can offer substantial health benefits and contribute to longevity. Artero et al. in 2010 explored the relationship between cardiovascular health, indicated by echocardiographic left ventricular mass (a marker for potential heart issues), and various fitness parameters. It was found that higher muscle strength and longer exercise durations were beneficially associated with heart health. The results underline the importance of strength and cardio workouts for cardiovascular health and, by extension, longevity.
You Are What You Eat: A balanced diet, rich in fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats, reduces inflammation, combats oxidative stress, and provides the body with essential nutrients. In essence, it's the oil that keeps our engine running smoothly.
To provide an overall perspective, a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that a combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and abstaining from smoking can extend men's life expectancy by up to 12 years.
Together, all these studies paint a really clear picture: both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (strength) training play vital roles in promoting longevity and reducing the risk of multiple chronic diseases. Incorporating a balanced routine that includes both types of exercises can optimise health outcomes.
So, when asked about your dedication to health and fitness, you can confidently share that it's about a deeper commitment...it’s about ensuring that, as the years go by, we’re not just adding year to our lives, but life to our years.
Note: Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Warburton, D. E. R., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. D. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: The evidence. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 31(2), 166-209.
Blair, S. N., Kampert, J. B., Kohl, H. W., Barlow, C. E., Macera, C. A., Paffenbarger, R. S., & Gibbons, L. W. (2009). Influences of cardiorespiratory fitness and other precursors on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 276(3), 205-210.
Grøntved, A., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., Andersen, L. B., & Hu, F. B. (2012). A prospective study of weight training and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in men. PLOS Medicine, 9(4), e1001267.
Grøntved, A., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Television viewing and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis. PLOS Medicine, 8(6), e1001050.
Artero, E. G., Lee, D., Lavie, C. J., España-Romero, V., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2010). Effects of muscular strength on cardiovascular risk factors and prognosis. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, 30(6), 324-333.