by Emma Inkester
We’ve all heard the old adage that if you lead an active lifestyle you will live longer. What’s not to love about the possibility of eking out those extra years of retirement where all you have to worry about is saying and doing exactly what you want and cruising the world? In a Harvard Alumni Study which examined mortality in more than 17,000 men who attended Harvard, life expectancy was about one or two years longer for those who expended 2,000 calories per week during exercise compared to those who were sedentary. And we all know that just one Barry’s class can burn up to 1000 calories (including the joyous afterburn!)
But what we don’t often talk about is exactly WHY or how exercising helps you live longer. When you’re sweating it out on the treadmills and tempted to give up, or the weights are ready to drop on the floor, that little bit of extra knowledge about the good you’re doing yourself could be just the motivation you need to keep pumpin’. So read on, for 4 ways that exercise helps you live longer.
1. Hard workout = heart workout
A high level of “good” cholesterol (HDL-C) in your blood lowers the risk of developing heart disease, and exercise raises this body-busting friend. This means that when you’re being shouted at by your favourite trainer and sweating under the red lights you are loweing your risk of heart attack. You are also likely to be lowering your blood pressure, again decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. If that isn’t a great reason to keep going we don’t know what is!
2. Fighting the fat spread
This is a no-brainer – it isn’t quite as simple as calories in/calories out, because all calories aren’t equal. However, not only are you burning calories during a work-out, you are raising your basal metabolic rate and increasing your muscle mass, which means that your body becomes a lean mean fat-burning machine. This is especially true of the HIIT style of exercise that us bootcampers love so much.
3. Active body joyful mind
We’ve all felt that post-exercise happy trip, so you may not be surprised to find out that exercise can help prevent and treat mental health conditions, and may even reduce the risk of developing depression and dementia. Not only that, but your general senses of well-being and self-image are likely to be boosted by a good workout routine, and your stress and anxiety lessened. Bring on the zen!
4. Stay flexy
Staying mobile increases your strength and flexibility, decreasing your likelihood of losing mobility as you get older and developing joint issues. The last thing you want is to hit 40 and barely be able to bend over, right? You’re also going to reduce bone and muscle loss associated with aging, and no one wants to sit and watch the game from the sidelines – we want to be IN the game.
So next time you feel like you’re about to die in minute 5 of the 6 minute incline run, don’t give up! You’re doing it for your 70 year old self as well as the soon-to-appear abs and booty of the present you! Now that’s a combo worth training for.
Emma Inkester is a full-time lawyer, part-time fitness junkie and blogger. She is passionate about sharing the journey to a healthy and happy lifestyle with others, and would love to hear from you with comments, questions and article requests. She can also be found on Twitter: @emmaink and on Instagram: @emmainkester