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EXERCISE CAN ADD TEN YEARS TO YOUR LIFE

EXERCISE CAN ADD TEN YEARS TO YOUR LIFE

There are so many reasons to exercise. Getting moving maintains a healthy heart, improves mood and helps to balance our calorie intake. There is also now evidence that being active not only keeps us healthier for longer, but can also keep us alive for longer.

HOW CAN WE GET AN ACCURATE MEASURE OF EXERCISE?

Exercise levels are measured with the concept of a MET, which stands for ‘metabolic equivalent of task’. One MET is the energy needed at rest, to maintain the body functions. Do something that uses four times as much energy as that, and you are using 4 METs. Do that exercise for 20 minutes and you have used 80 MET-minutes (4 x 20).

UK government minimum exercise guidelines work out to about 600 MET minutes of aerobic activity, with extra ‘points’ for strength work. These guidelines are also adopted by the World Health Organisation.

WHAT CAME OUT OF THE STUDY?

Australian researchers have been following a group of nearly 2000 over-fifties since 1992, recording a wide range of health parameters. This study was primarily focused on eye health, but the data also provides a wealth of information about other lifestyle factors and their effects on longevity.

The study showed that people doing more than 5000 MET-minutes a week had up to twice the chance of living up to ten years longer and being in better health. This implies that government guidelines may be an underestimate of the exercise level that we really need.

THAT SEEMS A LOT! WHAT KINDS OF EXERCISE COUNT?

Any movement is exercise so any movement counts. As well as exercise sessions, try to incorporate more movement into your everyday routine with the NEAT philosophy. Some fitness trackers can also be set to count MET minutes.

Higher energy movements will increase the tally of MET minutes, so prioritise cardio or indeed brisk walking or running. As always, the most important thing about exercise is that it is fun. Do that and those MET-minutes will soon clock up.

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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