Longevity: The essential lifestyle tip to ward off chronic disease as you age – new study

Sting demonstrates 'perpetual crunch' exercise on TikTok

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A new hypothesis has been put forward about exercise that goes against the conventional wisdom. A team of researchers from Harvard propose that rather than taking it easier in old age, as exercise becomes more difficult, we should instead do the opposite. Harvard University Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology Daniel Lieberman aims to answer the question of why humans evolved to live for decades after our child rearing years, and how that can be applied to improving our health in the present day. The theory is that exercise redirects the body’s metabolism away from unhealthy mechanisms like fat storage and towards positive systems that repair the damage of aging.

Physical activity, Professor Lieberman explained in a STAT interview, creates a variety of stresses across the body that encourage repair.

These stresses can vary from the production of reactive chemicals in the blood to microscopic damage to the bones and muscles.

When the body moves to repair these miniscule damages, the repair mechanism also mends other cumulative damages that would have gone ignored otherwise.

Professor Lieberman said: “Imagine you spill a cup of coffee on the floor, and then you clean up the floor, but you actually end up cleaning the floor a little bit more than it was before.”

The professor’s research is focused on the Hadza people, a hunter-gatherer group native to Tanzania.

They practise a subsistence lifestyle in which the elderly cannot afford to stop being active members of the community.

Lieberman associates this active lifestyle and their tightly controlled diets with a number of health benefits.

He said: “They don’t get sick from the kinds of disease we get, they don’t get diabetes.

“As far as we can tell, cancer rates are much lower. Heart disease doesn’t exist or it’s very, very rare.”

An increasing focus in aging research has been placed on extending the “healthspan” rather than the lifespan.

Extending healthspan means increasing the portion of our lives that we are healthy and free of chronic diseases that become more common in old age.

This includes delaying the onset of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cognitive conditions such as dementia.

Information collected by the Office for National Statistics shows that Healthy Life Expectancy was nearly two decades lower than total life expectancy.

Physical activity has long been understood to slow the decay of cells and decrease the rate of harmful diseases linked to aging.

It is thought to delay the rate of senescence – the accumulation of old and less-functional cells that impairs a variety of bodily functions.

Other lifestyle factors include remaining mentally active and eating healthy foods.

Some actions, such as smoking, can increase the rate of aging on the body’s cells.

Another study published by Harvard university suggested that men who exercise regularly can gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of exercise.

This exercise does need to be at regular intervals, but it doesn’t have to be intense.

Thirty minutes daily of brisk walking was stated to have a pronounced effect on health.

The NHS advises people to undergo 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, describing moderate intensity exercise as intense enough that you can still talk but could not sing.

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