Health

Women Who Exercise Regularly Live Longer, Study Finds

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With everything on our plates, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge. When I first started doing yoga, it was difficult to make it a part of my routine — I could always find a reason not to go. But once I decided to fully commit, the benefits were completely worth it. Now, a recent study says not only will working out regularly make me feel (and look!) better, but I am likely to live longer as well. 

A new study presented by a group of Spanish researchers to the The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging showed that the rate of death from heart disease was nearly four times higher among women who didn’t exercise compared to those who were in shape, reports TODAY. It also suggests women who are active have a lower risk of dying from cancer and other illnesses as well. 

It is not anything new that exercise makes us healthier, but this is one of the only studies that focuses solely on exercise and longevity in women. The researchers collected data from over 4,700 women between the ages of 50 and 75 who were given a heart disease test on a treadmill. The women started off walking then switched to running (if they were able) as the intensity increased until participants reached a final point of exhaustion. All the while pictures of their hearts were being taken. 

The women were considered in shape if they could work out at 10 metabolic equivalents or METs, which is equal to walking up four flights of stairs in 45 seconds without stopping to catch your breath. After comparing these women to those who were not in shape over a four and a half year period, it was found that those who didn’t exercise were up to four times likely to die from heart disease and other common causes of death.  

The takeaway? “Exercise as much as you can,” advices study author Dr. Jesús Peteiro in a press release. “Fitness protects against death from any cause.” 

But this doesn’t mean you have to join the gym and start pumping iron, little things like choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference. “We think that it is more important to change the lifestyle than to merely join a fitness club for a time,” Peteiro said. “For changing lifestyle we mean to change the daily routine to make it more active. For instance, commuting to work by walking, cycling or public transport always leads to more exercise than taking your car.”

It is important to get moving like this every day. “The vast majority of evidence suggests that 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise will produce health benefits and lower the risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis,” Kerry Stewart, a professor of medicine and director of clinical and research physiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told TODAY.

There are many ways to get a little more active. I do my yoga videos at home when I can’t make it to a class, and I take the stairs daily thanks to New York City’s subway system. Whichever way you choose to exercise, the important thing is starting and committing. The more you do it, the better you feel, and what better reward is there than feeling your best?

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