Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Exercise Lengthens Life Span, Study Reveals

This Washington Post story cites a study that gives quantitative evidence to support the old adage that people who exercise live longer than those who don't.

In a study led by Dr. Oscar H. Franco, a researcher from Erasmus M.C. University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he found that people who participate in a daily workout routine can extend their life long enough to see another presidential election and Olympics.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved over 5,000 middle-aged to senior citizen Americans and discovered that the study participants who had moderate to high exercise routines live 1.3 to 3.7 years longer than their sedentary counterparts. Dr. Franco said he attributes this to a delay in the development of heart disease and found no differences between men and women in the study.

"This shows that physical activity really does make a difference -- not only for how long you live but for how long you live a healthy life," explained Dr. Franco. "Being more physically active can give you more time."

While it has long been assumed by medical researchers and professionals that exercise added years to life, this is the first study of its kind to actually put a number on the actual amount of time added back to the life span of someone who engages in physical activity. It should make even the biggest couch potato want to jump out of their seat and hit the gym, right?

"This should encourage people to be more active -- to take a more active role in their own health and not just sit and wait for a pill to prevent this or that or save your life," Franco said.

Ooooh, I love this Dr. Franco. He echoes my sentiments from this recent blog post regarding the attitude of so many Americans regarding their health. They really do want the easy way out, but it doesn't work that way.

Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is all that is needed to improve heart health and this new study suggests it adds over a year to your life. A little more intense exercise routine, such as running, can lengthen life by nearly four years according to the researchers.

In fact, Dr. Franco says "it's never too late to start following a healthy lifestyle [and] to start exercising."

"For example, instead of taking your car to your office, why don't you take your bike or walk?" inquired Dr. Franco. "Physical activity is very important for a healthy lifestyle."

I couldn't agree more. When you are livin' la vida low-carb and combine it with regular exercise, your total cholesterol is lowered, your body burns more stored fat, it helps you maintain and stabilize your weight long after you have reached your weight loss goals. WOO HOO!

Without exercise, my low-carb lifestyle would not have been as successful as it has been. Getting into a regular routine was tough at first, but now I couldn't imagine going for an extended period of time without some kind of exercise. While I was in California over the weekend, I did not get to exercise for four days. That was the longest I had gone without any exercise since I started livin' la vida low-carb and it about drove me crazy. I made up for it today with a nice rigorous elliptical workout routine at the YMCA. :)

The study also notes that the years that are being added back to people's lives are ones generally free from physical ailments that tend to plague people who do not exercise as they get older. Additionally, other studies have found that exercise reduces stress, improves attitude, and wards off the onset of Alzheimer's and other mental illnesses.

President George W. Bush is a prime example of the positive effects of regular exercise. If the leader of the free world can fit an exercise routine into his busy schedule, then what's our excuse for not doing the same? We don't have ANY excuse good enough to rationalize away our need for exercise. If it is a priority for you, then you will make it happen ... somehow, someway.

When I first started out exercising, it was for 20 minutes at 3 mph on a treadmill. That was all I could handle at the time (I detail the early days of my plunge into daily exercise in Chapter 3 of my book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb") I am a BIG believer in incrementalism in exercise and letting people go at a pace that they can handle. It helped me lose 180+ pounds and keep it off and can help you, too! My motto is ANY exercise is better than NO exercise. Make today the beginning of a lifelong commitment to healthy exercise and you'll live longer -- science proves it now!

You can send an e-mail to Dr. Oscar H. Franco at

11-17-05 UPDATE: I received this very kind reply from Dr. Oscar Franco today in an e-mail:

Dear Mr Moore,

Thank you very much for your email and for your interest in our work. Congratulations with your achievement, losing weight is not easy. You are certainly an example for all those obese and overweight people around the globe wanting to lose weight but not being able to do it.

Best wishes,


THANKS, Dr. Franco! My goal is to help as many people as I can to find a permanent and lasting way to lose weight and keep it off for good. It may take a while to get that message out there, but I will never stop trying. Keep up your FANTASTIC research!


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