Friday, 23 December 2016

Vitamin C and Exercise May Share the Same Benefits

We sometimes find that beneficial foods, lifestyle interventions and medicinal herbs share the same mechanisms of action. Now it seems that this is also the case for exercise and vitamin C, as they have been found to share one of the same pathways for protecting cardiovascular health. While this doesn't mean you can swap exercise for supplements, it could mean that using both together is best.

As a high-risk group for cardiovascular diseases, overweight and obese people are strongly urged to exercise regularly, although more than half ignore this advice. For those who do, however, one of the benefits is a reduction in a protein known as endothelin-1 (ET-1). This constricts the small blood vessels, making it harder to deliver oxygen and nutrients, as well as clear out toxins, in every tissue, including the heart, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Recently, Colorado researchers revealed their findings that 500mg of time-released vitamin C reduced ET-1 just as much as walking for exercise. Of course, this does not mean you can use vitamin C to get out of exercising, as it has many other benefits to muscle and bone health, among other parts of the body (and we are designed for physical activity!). However, this does build on the research of Linus Pauling, who hypothesised that our usually low intake of vitamin C (he recommended 10-12 grams) is behind the epidemic of cardiovascular disease.

Other research has also shown a protective effect of vitamin C against cardiovascular issues. An earlier case-control study (100 cases, 198 controls) aiming to see if vitamin C and other nutrients could protect against heart attacks found that, compared to the lowest quartile for vitamin C intake, those in the highest had an 80% lower risk of heart attack! Vitamin E and fibre both reduced heart attack risk by 70%. Vitamin C may also protect against repeat cardiovascular events. In a study of 800 people who already had heart attacks, those given vitamin C supplementation suffered a collective total of 55 events, compared to 75 in the placebo group. High doses of vitamin C can have fast-acting effects too. When healthy male volunteers were given 2000mg of vitamin C, arterial stiffness was reduced by almost 10% within hours! This may have been because it protected nitric oxide against oxidation. With these studies and more showing the benefits of vitamin C, why not combine vitamin C-rich foods and exercise for the best results?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Have You Seen This Method of Keeping Kids Healthy?

Several videos depicting Russian school-children running around wearing nothing but swimsuits as they play with snow and buckets of water in freezing winter temperatures have pretty much gone viral, because of social media users curious to see what Those Crazy Russians are doing now. But is it really crazy? Or, are Western parents the crazy ones for wrapping their children in cotton wool?

Source: Radziszewski.Marek
Olesya, head of Kindergarten Number 168 in Barnul, south Siberia, says that accusations of cruelty are entirely wrong. About 18 years before she was interviewed for this 2012 article, she and other teachers were concerned about their students' health. Influenza was common, and at times half of the children were sick. Now, much of these illnesses are prevented by children first doing exercises inside with their teacher, and then spending a minute and a half scrubbing themselves and playing with snowballs and buckets of water. It is said that in general, 95% of the children who participate in this are healthy during the flu season, compared to 75% among those who don't. The "dousing" goes on all year round, summer (which can reach temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius) and winter, unless it gets below -30C.

But is there any research to back this all up? Well, yes; for example, this small study suggests that swimming in cold water may "toughen" the body. Ten healthy people who regularly participate in winter swimming were found to have higher levels of glutathione, the "master" antioxidant, than usual. This may be because of mild, acute oxidative stress caused by the cold water exposure. In another study on winter swimmers, the swimmers had higher levels of glutathione, and lower levels of oxidized glutathione compared to healthy controls. This time, there were 36 winter swimmers and 40 "normal people" (who wants to be normal anyway?) The winter swimmers also had much higher levels of the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase. Interestingly, their levels of non-oxidized glutathione, vitamin C and uric acid, which are all antioxidants, dropped significantly during swimming. All of this could mean that the stress caused by swimming in cold water triggers the body to produce more of its own antioxidants, in order to protect itself from damage. In fact, previous research found that winter swimmers suffered 40% fewer upper respiratory infections, validating Olesya's observations. On the other hand, if left alone, levels of antioxidant enzymes fall with age. Overall, perhaps a teaspoon of cement to harden up and a cold shower or swim could be the best "flu shot" for you, but if you have any cardiovascular or other chronic health issues, it is best to see your doctor first.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Vitamin O - Outside!

Did you know that, before pharmaceutical medicine, spending time in and near the ocean was considered a treatment for many ailments? It works for me in the case of skin and respiratory health, but it isn't outdated nonsense in the eyes of science either. Spending time outside has been shown in research to have health benefits!

What is this talking about? One example of this is a 2009 study from the Netherlands. It showed that living within one kilometre of a green space was linked with a lower incidence of 15 diseases, the strongest associations being for anxiety and depression. Asthma, migraines and diabetes were some of the other conditions where going outside had a protective effect. Some of the benefits come from the production of vitamin D when you are exposed to sunlight, which aids absorption of calcium, iron and zinc. It also helps to balance the immune system and strengthen muscles; actually, all tissue types have receptors for vitamin D and therefore need it for healthy functioning. Additionally, some swear by the benefits of exposure to negative ions, which are said to be in higher concentrations in environments such as the beach or countryside. A book by Professor Robert E Thayer cited research showing that negative ion exposure "increased energetic feelings as well as improved reaction time". Natural light is also known to lift people's moods. Compared with exercising inside, physical activity in natural environments is linked with better self-esteem and increased energy. Poor natural light is linked with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which may be caused by a drop in serotonin and melatonin associated with darkness.

In the Netherlands study, a total of 345,143 people from 195 general practitioners' medical records were involved, making it nothing to sneeze at. Both green space within 3 kilometres and 1 kilometre of a person's residence were analysed in relation to disease prevalence. For those living within 3 kilometres of a significant amount of green space, there was a reduced incidence of anxiety, digestive infections and Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms (MUPS). Although a "significant" reduction in disease prevalence was only 2-5%, these conditions are very common. The mechanisms behind these benefits may be due to more physical activity (such as in diabetes, musculoskeletal pain and heart disease), better air quality (asthma, COPD and respiratory infections) and the mental health benefits of a natural environment (depression and anxiety).

Robert E Thayer's 1990 book, The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal, discusses many studies which show a benefit of negative ions and natural light. One study by Cunningham (1979) showed that hours of daily sunshine was positively linked with people's willingness to help out with weather readings. He then found that sunshine and warm weather was correlated with waitresses earning more tips. Negative ions, which he said are concentrated around natural bodies of water, have also been linked to better mood. One 1981 study showed increased tension and irritability around positive ions, and another showed faster reaction times and improved energy around negative ions. Buckalew and Rizzuto (1982) found increases in positive mood and decreases in negative mood with exposure to negative ions. Baron, Russell and Arms (1985) also found that negative ions improved the moods of volunteers. Overall, spending time outside is good for you!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Fight Stress This Holiday Season with Adaptogens

Unfortunately for many, the holidays, whether it be Christmas, Chanukah or something else, can be more stressful than actually enjoyable. Travelling to visit relatives, family conflicts, all of this can have a nasty impact on our health. As Life Extension states, before listing some of the effects of stress, as many as 75-90% of visits to primary health care providers could be related to acute and chronic stress. It is chronic stress that is particularly horrible. Chronic stress causes harmful changes to the intestinal bacteria, which help to regulate not only digestion but also immunity and inflammation. Psychological stress has been found to be the strongest risk factor for cardiac events (e.g. heart attacks) in people with coronary artery disease. It can also impair immunity, increasing vulnerability to viral infections and even cancers. Another alarming study showed that stress can even shorten telomeres; these are protective caps of DNA on our chromosomes, which contribute to aging as they shorten.

Bacopa. Source: JM Garg
Where do adaptogens come in? Adaptogens are a type of medicinal herb that improve our resistance to stress, and increase our mental and physical strength. They each work in different ways, and have varying effects, but can all help protect us from the harmful effects of chronic stress.

Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a rasayana, an antiaging, pro-longevity remedy. Its 'specialty' is physical performance. In a study of healthy, athletic adults, taking 300mg of ashwagandha twice a day doubled their oxygen consumption after 12 weeks, compared to the placebo group. Increased oxygen consumption indicates better cardiovascular endurance. In a second study, volunteers taking 300mg twice daily showed greater improvements in muscle strength compared to the placebo group. After only eight weeks, the men taking ashwagandha could bench-press 101 pounds, compared to 58 pounds; they could also lift 31.9 pounds in leg-extension exercises, compared to 21 pounds. Biochemical test results showed that men taking ashwagandha had a greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage, a greater reduction in body fat and...a 4.3 times increase in testosterone levels! This could mean a lot for women going through menopause, and men going through andropause.

Bacopa monnieri, commonly known as brahmi or water hyssop, 'specialises' in cognitive function. One trial showed that taking 125mg of brahmi every day led to significant improvements in memory, learning and mental control. Sounds like the perfect remedy for students! Another demonstrated its ability to improve cognitive performance and mood soon after multitasking, a bad habit of students and nearly everyone else! Multitasking is inherently stressful, and does affect mental performance. It is not an "adulting" badge of honour.

Cordyceps sinensis, a fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine, has a few specialties, such as immunity. In a study on mice, cordyceps was shown to have antioxidant activity and increase production of immune chemicals that, while inflammatory, are helpful in acute infection. Fortunately, it does not overstimulate the production of these chemicals. In fact, although it can boost the functioning of immune cells, other research has shown anti-inflammatory ability, and even an ability to help anti-rejection drugs protect transplanted organs! Overall, you don't have to let your health suffer during times of stress, even when it feels like you have to put yourself last, you owe yourself proper self-care.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

New Evidence That Fat Isn't Bad

Billed as good news for everyone who likes to stuff their faces during Christmas, a new study has found that fats, even saturated fats, aren't necessarily bad for you. But not all Christmas dishes have been given a free pass, as high-carb foods were shown to be the major contributor to obesity.

Cream. Source: Paul Downey (CC 2.0)
Led by experts from the University of Bergen in Norway, this research involved obese men who had diets high in either carbohydrates or fat. Their levels of body fat in the abdomen and around the heart, as well as other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, were measured and compared between the two groups. Professor and cardiologist Ottar Nygard said that "The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases", going against conventional dietary advice that has been the norm for years (regardless of accuracy). "Participants in the very high-fat diet also had substantial improvements in several important cardiometabolic risk factors, such as ectopic fat storage, blood pressure, blood lipids (triglycerides), insulin and blood sugar", he added. Processed and low-quality foods, however, were also key factors in obesity. Total and saturated fat consumption was examined in context with healthy diets that were rich in fresh foods and favoured vegetables and rice over flour-based products. The fat sources were typically unprocessed, and were mainly butter, cold-pressed oils and cream. Conventional wisdom would tell you that saturated fats raise "bad" LDL cholesterol, but these researchers found no such thing - while there was no significant increase in LDL cholesterol, the "good" HDL cholesterol was higher in people with high fat diets.
"These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy", Professor Nygard concluded.

This research and the mainstream news article reporting it comes soon after Australia's AHPRA has attempted to silence Gary Fettke, an orthopaedic surgeon with an interest in nutrition, because of his support for the same ideas found by this study! AHPRA failed to recognise his thousands of hours of research, from textbooks to journal articles and working with scientists and other health professionals of all types. He is no longer allowed to participate in research or speak in public in Australia, all because of his support for the Low-Carb High-Fat (LCHF) diet. His reasons for being such a bad little boy? Most of his patients had joint issues related to obesity and/or diabetes, and for years, all he could see was these patients get worse on government nutritional advice. Fortunately, Nutrition for Life is setting up a not-for-profit community arm so that their work can continue. And we can all join in to spread the news of diets that actually heal, instead of one-size-fits-all, government-approved ideas that do not. We have more power than what these people would like us to believe.

Monday, 12 December 2016

What is Carnosine and What Can it Do?

If you are interested in natural health and antiaging, you have probably heard of the non-essential nutrient carnosine. But what is it? Carnosine is a dipeptide, meaning that it is made of two amino acids, in this case L-histidine and beta-alanine. It is "non-essential" because it is produced naturally by the body, and is mostly found in the brain, nerves and muscles as these are the most energy-demanding. One of carnosine's most important roles is to defend us against toxic substances and excess glucose. It prevents glucose molecules from reacting with proteins (glycosylation) and prevents proteins from cross-linking in ways that cause excess stiffness and interfere with their functioning. Because of this, carnosine helps to prevent the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that worsen the sugar-induced damage to proteins seen in people with diabetes. Glycation and AGEs are a major cause of aging in everyone, partly because of the inflammation they produce. It can also protect cells from damage caused by AGEs that have already been formed, and even slow telomere shortening! (Telomeres are protective caps on chromosomes that are required for cell division) All of this means that carnosine was one of the first substances to be deemed antiaging at a cellular level.

But how has carnosine performed in clinical trials? In one study, 56 volunteers over 65 were given either chicken meat extract, which is high in carnosine, or placebo, for 13 weeks. After these 13 weeks, the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the carnosine group fell significantly compared to placebo, meaning they lost weight. Only the carnosine group saw significant increases in two of the six Senior Fitness Tests and reported less perceived exertion. They were also the only group to improve their scores in the Short Test of Mental Status, in the areas of construction/copying, abstraction and recall. Another trial also looked at the similar "chicken essence", a traditional Asian remedy for fatigue. Twenty healthy men were assigned to either a drink containing chicken essence or placebo for four weeks, and those taking the chicken essence had significantly better energy levels and cognitive performance. These studies mean well for those of us who prefer food over supplements.

Of course, supplementation of carnosine can also be effective, including in the case of congestive heart failure (CHF). Fifty patients received either 500mg of carnosine for six months or a placebo, in order to test differences in walking distance, quality of life and heart function. Patients getting carnosine saw significant improvements in the distance walked over six minutes, quality of life, peak exercise workload and oxygen levels. As for diabetes, a clinical trial of people at high risk for developing the disease found that although insulin resistance worsened in both groups, it increased 3.8 times more in the placebo group than in the carnosine group. Insulin secretion increased by 36% in the placebo group, but only by 3% in the carnosine group. Therefore, carnosine was able to mostly offset the effects of their current diet and lifestyle. The wide range of benefits that carnosine has demonstrated is because of the fact that high blood sugar and glycation affect every inch of our bodies. However, taking it is not an excuse to eat large amounts of sugary, processed foods all the time - but it can be a good prevention strategy for everyday, lower levels of glycation and during times when you do eat a lot of junk food, such as Halloween and Christmas.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Can Coffee Fight Skin Aging?

It seems as though coffee has a never-ending list of health benefits when used correctly and in moderation. Yet another one of these could be an ability to fight skin aging. While aging may be a universal complaint, it is still a complaint, and one factor in skin aging is ultraviolet light exposure. The fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration and loose skin that just can't seem to hold moisture reflects the deterioration of the connective tissue which makes up the dermis. A healthy dermis will contain a strong framework of the proteins collagen and elastin, as well as water-binding glycosaminoglycans (which means they are made up of amino acids and sugars). The elasticity, strength and ability to bounce back is what gives skin a youthful appearance. Large amounts of ultraviolet light and other toxic substances produce free radicals that break down this framework and cause cell damage, which leads to skin aging.

Source: Kenny Louie (CC BY SA: 2.0)
Fortunately, researchers around the world have found that some phytochemicals extracted from coffee beans can rejuvenate aging skin. When applied topically, green, unroasted coffee beans provide many benefits. In a randomised, double-blinded trial, 40 women were assigned to receive either a high-antioxidant skin care set of facial wash, day lotion, night cream and eye serum, or a placebo set, for 12 weeks. Evaluations of efficacy were performed by a board-certified dermatologist at the beginning, at 6 weeks and at 12 weeks. It was found that the high-antioxidant set, which contained coffee extract, gave significant benefits to photo-aged skin. Almost every parameter showed improvement: wrinkles, level of firmness, pigmentation, roughness, redness and clarity. In another trial studying the seed oil of Coffea arabica, researchers found a 1.5 times increase in elastin production and a near doubling of collagen production compared to the controls. As stated above, these are the main connective tissue proteins that support the skin. There was also a doubling of glycosaminoglycans, and a increase of aquaglycerolporins by seven times! As the name of the second type of protein suggests, these work together to trap moisture in the skin, which promotes firmness and prevents uncomfortable, possibly harmful drying out.

Coffea robusta, which is native to West Africa, contains a greater amount of caffeine and other active constituents because of how it is processed. In a study of 35 women aged 30-70, they were instructed to apply a caffeine-containing eye cream to the area around one eye twice a day, and not to the other half. After four weeks, there was a significant improvement in smoothness and wrinkle depth in the treated halves of their faces. This was measured with a 3D optical imaging technique. In research on mice, caffeine was also found to prevent damage caused by UV light.

If you are having trouble with dry, rough skin that doesn't seem to be protecting itself enough, coffee may be best paired with honey. Honey is a humectant, which means it helps trap moisture, much like the glycosaminoglycans that coffee supports the production of. As it is sticky, it also makes a great addition to any home-made face masks because it would help keep the other ingredients stuck to your face.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Arianna Huffington and the Self-Care Revolution

When it comes to self-care, including sleep, we are often caught between two lines of thinking. Doctors, naturopaths and other health professionals recognise a good night's sleep as essential to health, for reasons such as the fact that sleep is when your immune system is restored. On the other hand, the dominant cultural norm is currently that sleep deprivation is a pre-requisite to achievement and success, especially if you are an entrepreneur. This is something that Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, used to believe, especially in university. After graduation, she continued on this inadvertently self-destructive path, and tried to get by on just three or four hours of sleep a night until she collapsed from "sleep deprivation, exhaustion and burnout" in 2007. While she had learnt her lesson, she saw that others had not, and so was inspired to write The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. In an interview with Life Extension, Arianna explains the importance of healthy sleep, and the dangers of pharmaceutical sleep aids.

Source: Kemal ATLI (CC:2.0)
How dangerous is sleep deprivation? Well, Arianna starts with the statistic that less than six hours of sleep a night has been linked with a 15% greater chance of dying. Seven to nine hours a night is the ideal range, but less than six hours is associated with a greater risk of obesity as it increases levels of appetite-stimulating hormones. In other research, healthy adults were found to have higher blood pressure after only being allowed to sleep four hours a night instead of eight. These factors could raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases, one of the world's biggest killers. In fact, a recent study found that men with sleep disorders had 2-2.6 times the risk of heart attack, and 1.5-4 times greater risk of stroke over the 14-year study period. Those who associate death with sleep in an attempt to make it sound less awful really have it the wrong way around.

Sleep deprivation can also endanger the lives of others, as found in a study of around 3,000 first-year medical residents (reference in book). While their working week is "capped" at a massive 80 hours, individual shifts can last as long as 24 hours. In months where interns had at least five 24-hour shifts, patients deaths increased by 300% and fatigue-related adverse events increased by 700%! An Australian study also found that being awake for 17-19 hours impaired cognition just as much as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%, which also counts as legally drunk in Australia.

However, in her research Arianna has uncovered the dangers of sleeping pills. Harvard medical school professor Patrick Fuller explained to her that the chemical imbalances caused by these drugs can limit restorative sleep and often only create a state between sleep and being awake, leading to side effects such as sleepwalking. Additionally, she found that use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease after 3-6 months of use. Taking them for more than six months raises the risk by 84%. It is best to look at what diet and lifestyle factors are causing a lack of sleep, and using nutritional and/or herbal medicines such as valerian or lavender, instead of pharmaceutical interventions. Sleep is essential, but replacing one consequence for another is not the way to go.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Fighting Aging With Magnesium

With the conventional side of medicine looking for the next blockbuster drug, and the world of natural health often chasing rare and exotic herbs, simpler interventions are frequently overlooked. This is especially the case with magnesium, which is the fourth most abundant element in the body and has hundreds of functions. Even though volumes of research shows that magnesium can guard against high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, kidney disease, blood sugar dysregulation, cognitive decline and even migraines, most Americans (and probably Australians) don't get enough magnesium from food sources.

Magnesium is essential for the chemical reactions that produce energy from sugar, among many others. Around half of our bodies' magnesium is stored in the bones, for both later use and to aid their strength and integrity. Deficiency is unfortunately so common because of our soils and water being depleted through poor farming practices and over-treating. To make things worse, many people just don't eat enough fruit and vegetables, and some drugs such as PPIs increase deficiency. So what's the problem? Well, a laboratory study found that human fibroblast cells grown in magnesium-deficient conditions lost the ability to divide faster than cells grown with enough magnesium. This was at least partially by speeding up telomere shortening - telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that allow cells to divide. However, the cell's ability to survive was not affected, as a moderate deficiency was simulated over a period of months. What this means for us may be that long-term magnesium deficiency speeds up aging, and therefore promote disease, in a way that sneaks up on us after many years. You may just get muscle cramps now and then for now, but things could get more serious than that. It is possible that magnesium protects telomeres from oxidative damage, aids in their structural integrity, or both.

Magnesium has also shown benefits for cardiovascular health. In a study of over two and a half thousand participants in the Framingham study, increasing magnesium intake by just 50mg a day was linked with 22% lower coronary artery calcification. The chance of having any coronary artery calcification was 58% lower in the highest category of magnesium intake compared with the lowest. These results were controlled for many factors, from age and sex to intake of calcium and vitamin K. Additionally, low magnesium has been associated with kidney disease in people with cardiovascular issues, but could be an independent risk factor for it too. In an adjusted analysis, low blood levels of magnesium were linked with a 58% increased risk of chronic kidney disease, and more than double the risk of end-stage renal disease. Migraines, on the other hand, are a condition that won't kill you, although some would say it sure feels like the case. In a 1996 trial, 81 adults suffering from an average of 3-4 migraines per month were assigned to receive either 600mg of magnesium a day or a placebo. In weeks 9-12, the final month of the study, patients who received magnesium experienced a 41% reduction in migraine attacks, as well as shorter attacks and less need for pharmaceutical pain relief. This should be common knowledge by now. Overall, with so many health benefits, it is surprising that magnesium intake is so overlooked. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and black beans are some of the many food sources of magnesium.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Exercise For Life Extension!

Want to not die? Or, in other words, live longer? Well, swimming, dance aerobics and racquet sports have recently been linked with the strongest life-extending effects in a recent British study. Researchers found that different sports were associated with different levels of benefit, and urged both doctors and government workers to incorporate their findings in public health interventions.

Doing a cute and staying healthy. Source: Tommy Wong (CC2.0)
So what exactly happened? The study was an analysis of 11 annual health surveys conducted in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008. A total of 80,306 adults were included, with an average age of 52. The survival of each person was tracked for an average of nine years, and during this time, 8,790 of them died. They were asked about how much exercise, and what type, they had done in the last four weeks, and if it made them sweaty and breathless. This means whether or not the exercise was moderate to heavy. Compared to those who had not done any type of physical activity, those who did racquet sports had a 47% lower risk of death from any cause over the average 9-year period. Swimmers and dance aerobic fans had a 28% and 27% lower risk respectively, and cyclists had a 15% lower risk of dying. These effects are pretty impressive considering the age of participants and the long study period. It may also control for other healthy habits commonly seen in people who exercise regularly, as they would be common across exercise types. Running and playing football were not linked with a reduced risk of death, unlike other studies where running was shown to be protective. However, it may be because of the nature of these sports, and the climate of the UK, as football is seasonal and neither are all that compatible with colder seasons that would prevent one from going outside. Lower risk of injury and possibly greater mental stimulation may be other factors.

Another long-term study also showed a significant benefit of exercise on mortality rates. This was the second part of the Oslo study, that followed thousands of men born between 1923 and 1932. Over 5,700 of the surviving men chose to participate again in a second health check in the year 2000, and were monitored for another 12 years. In 2000, their ages were between 68 and 77, older than the participants of the above study. After 12 years, the results showed that exercise of any intensity for at least 30 minutes, 6 days a week, was linked with a 40% reduced risk of dying from any cause - even though they were now aged between 80 and 89. Regular moderate-vigorous physical activity was shown to add 5 years onto their lives! Less than one hour a week of light exercise did not reduce the risk of death, but the same amount of vigorous exercise reduced it by 23-37%. The death rate for people who did more than an hour of light exercise per week was 32-56% lower. The overall results were said to match the health benefits of quitting smoking. Actually, a 2002 study of over 877,000 Americans showed that quitting at age 35 extended life by 6.9-8.5 years in men, and 6.1-7.7 years in women. Quitting at age 65 extended life by 1.4-2 years for men and 2.7-3.7 years for women. Another found that quitting extended life in women by 10 years; this was a long-term study of over one million women. On top of this, quitting smoking can make exercise more enjoyable by allowing the lungs to repair themselves.