Exercise Extends Life

Posted on Jun 22, 2008 in Health & Wellness

Found some interesting facts on the blog of the Hawaii Marathon Clinic that were worthy of sharing.

“The federal government now spends $952 billion a year on Social Security, Medicare and other beneits for the elderly, which come to a record $27,289 per senior citizen, up 25% since 2000. About 35% of the federal budget is now spent on seniors.”
Source: THE WEEK, Feb. 29, 2008

“Increased Fitness Associated with a 50% to 70% Reduction in all Causes of Mortality.”
This was one of the largest studies ever to link exercise capacity to all causes of mortality. Physicians should be motivated to pay as much attention to exercise capacity as they to do major risk factors.
Source: Circulation 2008 and DOI:10.161 Kokkinos et al. “Exercise Capacity in Black and White Men”

An 11-year study of more than 25,000 men and women ages 45 to 79 years of age found that healthy lifestyle behaviors equated to a longer life. By eating lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising, drinking alcohol if desired (but not too much), and not smoking individuals may live an additional 14 years.
Source: PLoS Medicine, Jan. 8, 2008

Very simply put, when done properly, there is no other form of treatment, pill, medication or intervention as cost-effective as exercise.

II. Medical Benefits of Exercise
i.e. slow-twitch vs. quick-twitch muscle fibers*

Contrasted with their sedentary counterparts, those who exercise a minimum of 1 hour, 3 times a week (burning 2200-3300 cal.), experience the following diseases/problems less frequently (usually by a magnitude of more than 30%).

  1. Hypertension
  2. ASHD (arteriosclerotic heart disease)
  3. Stroke
  4. MyocardialInfarction (Heart Attack)
  5. Acute Sudden Death (ventricular fibrillation)
  6. Peripherovascular disease
  7. Diabetes (especially Adult Onset Type II)
  8. Esophagitis
  9. Hiatal Hernia
  10. Gastric Ulcer
  11. Appendicitis
  12. Duodenal Ulcer
  13. Diverticulitis
  14. Cholecystitis (Gall Bladder Disease)
  15. Varicose Veins
  16. Hemorrhoids
  17. Osteoporosis
  18. Estrogen Dependant Cancer
  19. -Breast (recurrent breast Cancer 50%)
  20. -Uterine
  21. -Ovarian
  22. Colon Cancer
  23. Prostate Cancer
  24. Premature Labor/Low Birth Weight
  25. Teen Pregnancy
  26. Failure to Complete Education
  27. Substance Abuse
  28. Depression
  29. Alzheimer’s
  30. Cataracts
  31. Migraine Headaches

These are the most common medical, problematic and surgical conditions in the United States today, and regular exercise is the best “medicine/cure!” Clearly, it’s never too late to get started, but as in any other form of medical therapy, the sooner the better!

*There are two types of muscle fibers, slow-twitch and quick-twitch. Quick-twitch muscle fibers help with quick bursts of energy. Slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are for endurance training, i.e. 1 hour running/walking 3 times a week, dramatically reduce the above mentioned problems.
Important: 30 minutes of exercise 6 times a week does not give the same disease fighting benefit as 1 continuous hour, 3 times a week.


If an individual dies prematurely (before age 65), 85% of the time it is due to “lifestyle” related causes consisting of:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Cigarette smoking
  3. Lack of exercise

With the exception of #1, choices #2 and #3 are clearly personal.