Longer Life Through Exercise?
So-called high intensity training (HIT) can improve the physical and psychological quality of life of older people and apparently also has positive effects on life expectancy.
High intensity exercise in the elderly appears to have positive effects on life expectancy. (Image: ivanko80 / Stock.Adobe.com)
High-intensity training appears to be associated with increased life expectancy in older people, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) report of their latest study results. These were published in the English language trade journal “BMJ”.
Effects of HIT on life expectancy?
The results of the “Generation 100” study show that regular high-intensity training, in addition to improving physical condition, also has an additional positive effect on life expectancy. Of most 70-77 year olds in Norway, 90% will survive the next five years. In the Generation 100 study, by contrast, more than 95% of 1,500 participants survived this time, the researchers report.
The participants were divided into three groups
At the start of the study in 2012, participants were randomly assigned to three different training groups. One group did high-intensity 4X4 intervals training twice a week, while the second group was instructed to exercise at constant, moderate intensity for 50 minutes two days a week. Participants could choose whether they wanted to train on their own or participate in a guided group training.
How did the control group come about?
The third group served as a control group. These people were advised to exercise according to the recommendations of the Norwegian health authorities. The group did not receive any organized training under the auspices of Generation 100. However, participants were called in for regular health checks and fitness assessments.
Strong positive effects on quality of life
“The physical and psychological quality of life was better in the high intensity group after five years than in the other two groups. High-intensity interval training also had the greatest positive effect on fitness, ”study author Dorthe Stensvold reports in a press release.
“In the interval training group, three percent of the participants died after five years. In the moderate exercise group, the percentage was six percent. The difference is not statistically significant, but the trend is so clear that we assume the results provide a good reason to recommend high intensity training for the elderly, ”adds the expert. In contrast, 4.5% of participants in the control group died within five years.
People in the control group exercised more than expected
One of the challenges in interpreting the results was that participants in the control group trained more than the research group imagined. One in five people in this group trained regularly at high intensity and ended up doing more high intensity training on average than participants in the moderate group. This could explain why this group fell between the other two groups in terms of survival, the researchers say.
Movement prolongs life
When asked if this study provides definitive evidence that exercise prolongs life, Stensvold said, “I want to answer with a resounding and unequivocal yes because we believe it does. This is why so few of the 100th generation have died compared to normal life expectancy in this age group.
Participants were healthy and active
People who signed up for the study were likely to be highly motivated from the start and they also started with a relatively high level of activity, the researchers report. And most of them would have considered themselves to be in good health.
Fitness level could be maintained
Stensvold also notes that participants in all three groups in the Generation 100 study were successful in maintaining their fitness over the five-year period. Researchers report that this is quite unique in such an age group.
Typically, people aged 70 and over can see their physical condition decline by 20% over a ten-year period. The fact that participants in the Generation 100 study were successful in maintaining good physical shape from start to finish suggests that all three groups were more physically active than usual for this age group, the research group explains.
Why does HIT extend life?
In the Generation 100 study, high-intensity training increased participants’ endurance the most after the first, third, and fifth years. Better physical fitness is known to be closely related to a lower risk of premature death, so this improvement could explain why the high-intensity group appears to have the best survival rate, the research team concludes. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology: High Intensity Training is Ideal for Seniors (published 08/10/2020), NTNUDorthe Stensvold, Hallgeir Viken, Sigurd L Steinshamn, Håvard Dalen, Asbjørn Støylen et al .: Effect of five-year exercise training on all cause mortality in the elderly – Generation 100 study: randomized controlled trial, in BMJ (published October 7, 2020), BMJ
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.