By Euro Weekly News Media • 14 June 2012 • 10:49
ELDERLY women who eat a healthy diet and stay physically active live longer.Women in their 70s who ate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and exercised lived five years longer than those who were sedentary and ate little fresh produce, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found. Researchers in America at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University analysed data from 713 women aged 70 to 79.They measured blood levels of carotenoids; the more fruits and vegetables eaten, the higher the levels in the bloodstream. Physical activity was measured through a questionnaire, which was converted into the number of calories used.They were followed-up five years later to establish the links between healthy eating, exercise and survival rates.It was found that 11.5 per cent of the women in the study had died, but carotenoid levels in the survivors were 12 per cent higher and physical exercise was twice as high.Women in the most active group had a 71 per cent lower five-year death rate than those in the least active group.Those in the highest carotenoid group had a 46 per cent lower five-year death rate than women in the lowest carotenoid group.However, too much exercise can ‘hurt the heart’ and cause dangerous long- term harm, another study found.The safe ‘upper limit’ for heart health is a maximum of an hour a day, after which there is little benefit to the individual.“Physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacologic agent,” said lead study author Dr James O’Keefe of Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City (US).This is often known as ‘runner’s high’.It is believed this evolved as an evolutionary ‘carrot’ to keep people moving, scientists from the University of Arizona (US) say.Hunter-gatherer ancestors would have travelled long distances every day.“Aerobic activity has played a role in the evolution of lots of different systems in the human body, which may explain why aerobic exercise seems to be so good for us,” said Professor David Raichlen.Previous research has shown that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors because they needed to run long distances, perhaps to hunt animals or scavenge carcasses on Africa’s vast savannah. The ability to run shaped the human anatomy, making people look like they do today.
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