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Physical activity has been shown to help maintain a healthy body weight, maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, promote psychological well-being, and reduce the risk of certain diseases, including some cancers.

Early in 1970s, the American College of Sports Medicine followed the theory of exercise science and recommended people to exercise for their health. Numerous studies have investigated the health benefits of regular exercise in the elderly.

Researchers have established that regular physical activity can improve health by:

Helping to control weight.

Mantaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints.

Reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes.

Promoting psychological well-being.

Reducing the risk of death from heart disease.

New study published by NCI Press Release (NIH) on Nov. 6, 2012, PLoS Medicine,


the researchers concluded that leisure-time physical activity extends life expectancy as much as 4.5 years.

There were 654,827 individuals, 21–90 y of age, enrolled in one Swedish and five US prospective cohort studies and they were followed for 10 years.

The greatest benefits to life expectancy were seen in those who were considered to be in the normal weight range who were active. That combination of normal weight and activity level was found to add up to 7.2 years to a person's life, according to the study. They found that people who got at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week showed a clear increase in their overall life expectancy. Those who got even 1 1/4 hours of vigorous exercise displayed the same benefits. After accounting for other factors that could affect life expectancy, such as socio-economic status, the researchers found that life expectancy was 3.4 years longer for people who reported they got the recommend level of physical activity at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week.

In general, more physical activity corresponded to longer life expectancy.

Regular exercise extended the lives in every group, examined in the study— normal weight, overweight, or obese.

The researchers found that the association between physical activity and life expectancy was similar between men and women, and blacks gained more years of life expectancy than whites. Being active and normal weight was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to being inactive and class II+ obese (having a BMI of more than 35.0 kg/m2). However, being inactive but normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared to being active but class I obese (having a BMI of 30–34.9 kg/m2). More leisure time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and BMI groups.

A physical activity level of 0.1–3.74 MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 min/wk, was associated with a gain of 1.8 (95% CI: 1.6–2.0) y in life expectancy relative to no leisure time activity (0 MET-h/wk). Higher levels of physical activity were associated with greater gains in life expectancy, with a gain of 4.5 (95% CI: 4.3–4.7) y at the highest level (22.5+ MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for 450+ min/wk).

One MET is defined as the energy expenditure for sitting quietly, which, for the average adult, approximates 3.5 ml of oxygen uptake per kilogram of body weight per minute (1.2 kcal/min for a 70-kg individual)

Gains in life expectancy were seen also for black individuals and former smokers, groups for whom relatively few data had been previously available.

Another study, reported by World Heart Federation on 2012, April 23 ( followed 434,190 people who went through medical examination program between 1996 and 2008 in Taiwan. It showed that exercise increases life expectancy in smokers and non-smokers alike. Smokers that participated in physical activity had an increased life expectancy of 3.7 years and a reduction in all-cause mortality of 23 per cent - equivalent to levels achieved by ex-smokers with low activity levels. The results also demonstrated that active ex-smokers increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years and reduced their all-cause mortality by 43 per cent - equivalent to the levels seen in inactive non-smokers. Within five years of becoming a non-smoker, a person's risk of having heart attack is halved and within 15 years the risk of developing CVD becomes nearly the same of someone who has never smoked.

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study (the Rotterdam study), the researchers followed 5,209 residents of Framingham, Mass., over the past 46 years, researchers at the University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands, calculated the effects of low, moderate, or high levels of physical activity on people age 50 and older. The study authors report that total life expectancy increased as levels of physical activity increased.

For men 50 years or older:

moderate physical activity levels led to 1.3 years more in total life expectancy and 1.1 years lived without cardiovascular disease High levels of physical activity added 3.7 years to life expectancy and 3.2 more years lived without cardiovascular disease

For women 50 years or older:

Moderate physical activity levels led to 1.5 years more in total life expectancy, and 1.3 more years lived without cardiovascular disease High levels of physical activity added 3.5 years to total life expectancy, and 3.3 more years lived free of cardiovascular disease. In the second, smaller study of 492 sedentary adults, researchers examined what type of real-world walking program would improve heart health. They found several routines worked: Walking for 30 minutes five or more days a week, either moderately or briskly, improved cardiorespiratory fitness and led to short-term progress in cholesterol levels. It worked just as well to walk briskly three to four days a week.

In his study Yu-Hsuan Lin et al. from the Population and Health Research Center,Department of Health, Taiwan, , Submitted to PAA 2009 sessions:1302 ( showed the Association between Regular Exercise and Health Life Expectancy.The results showed that regular exercisers have longer life expectancy and higher proportion of active life expectancy, defined as the number of years an individual can expect to live without functional limitations The Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (TLSA) was initiated in 1989 with a total of 4,049 sampled individuals and follow-up surveys conducted in 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007. In summary, the results of this study suggest that exercise behavior could postpone the decline of daily functions in elders.

I will just mention also a study, presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. The study involved 236 participants (136 women, 100 men, 45 to 55 years old). MRI analysis revealed an association between physical activity level and severity of knee damage, worse with high physical activity levels.

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