Survival of the fittest? Maybe.
According to new research, exercise may not be the key to longevity; In fact, moving too much could even accelerate our body’s aging process, Scandinavian scientists revealed.
The ambitious study on the much-discussed topic has not yet been peer-reviewed, but recently won a national sports medicine award in Finland, where the research was carried out over a 45-year period.
Multiple studies have previously confirmed that those who exercise more live longer, healthier lives.
This time, however, researchers from the University of Jyvaskyla found that physical activity could be only a small part of the overall picture and, in some cases, could have negative health impacts.
To carry out the study, more than 11,000 Finnish twins of the same sex were analyzed between 1975 and 2020.
Participants reported the time and intensity of their daily physical activity and were classified into four groups: sedentary, moderately active, active, and very active.
Overall, they found that those who exercised less were about 20 percent more likely to die during age 45 than those who exercised regularly.
However, when they filtered by lifestyle factors, such as education, body mass index (BMI), smoking and alcohol consumption, that number dropped significantly.
Then, those in the sedentary group were only seven percent more likely to die compared to those in the active group, with no “additional benefits provided” by higher levels of exercise.
As the old saying goes: “Everything in moderation.”
The study showed that biological aging was accelerated in those who exercised too much and too little.
Those who were most physically active were about 1.8 years “older” than those who engaged in a more modest amount of physical activity.
The researchers concluded that those who exercise may not live longer because of their training, but because they live healthier lives overall.
While the amount of time each group was active was not immediately evident, the World Health Organization recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes. and 150 minutes of vigorous intensity. Aerobic physical activity per week.
Dr. George Savva, senior research scientist at the Quadram Institute, a food and health research center in Norwich, England, told the Times of London that the focus on twins gave the Finnish study a “powerful research design.”
However, the expert warned that the researchers’ filtering of BMI, which can be altered by physical activity, may have skewed some of the impacts of exercise.