Health Buzz: Joggers May Live Longer

Your guide to exercising through the ages; 7 mind-blowing benefits of exercise.

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Study: Jogging Ups Life Expectancy

More reason to put on those running shoes: Joggers may live longer, new research suggests. Jogging regularly—even for as little as an hour a week—could add 6.2 years to a man's life and 5.6 years to a woman's life. Researchers compared the mortality of 20,000 joggers and non-joggers participating in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which began in 1976. Most beneficial? Jogging at a slow pace for one to two and a half hours weekly. "You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless," Peter Schnohr, the study's chief cardiologist, told HealthDay. "The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes. Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging, than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise." Jogging brings numerous health benefits that contribute to increased life expectancy, according to the study authors. These include oxygen uptake, improved cholesterol and heart function, better bone density, and stronger immune function.

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  • Your Guide to Exercising Through the Ages

    What's the golden ticket to living well into your golden years? A lifelong exercise program, says Pamela Peeke, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Specifically, a program that adapts to your physiological needs as you age. "Exercise is age-specific," says Peeke, author of Fit to Live and Body-for-LIFE for Women. "And you want to start as young as possible."

    If you wait until age 65 to start exercising, you'll still benefit somewhat: Research has shown that you can, indeed, take steps to reverse the effects of inactivity later in life, and with considerable success. But why take the hard route? Fitness is like retirement savings, Peeke suggests: Wait until later to start socking away "body currency," and you'll get much less bang for your buck. You'll be trying to amass strength and endurance just as your energy and lean muscle mass have dwindled.

    But start with a simple, well-rounded fitness plan now, and modest upkeep can take you spryly into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. All you have to do is stay consistent. "I've seen 100-year-olds who are more active than some 20-year-olds," Peeke says. However, most people neglect their fitness regimens as they get older: Only 30 percent of people ages 45 to 64, 25 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds, and 11 percent of people 85 and older say they exercise regularly, according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). [Read more: Your Guide to Exercising Through the Ages]

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    • 7 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise

      Maybe you exercise to tone your thighs, build your biceps, or flatten your belly. Or maybe you work out to ward off the big killers like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But how about sweating to improve your mind? "Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning," says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. "Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain." If you need a little extra incentive to lace up those sneakers, here are five ways that exercise can boost your brainpower.

      1. It reverses the detrimental effects of stress. Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of "soothing" brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What's fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress's toll on our aging process, according to a 2010 study from the University of California—San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating "by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again," says study coauthor Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF. [Read more: 7 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise]