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Increase Your Activity Level as You Age

Published in Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It, Exercise

Becoming a couch potato as you get older goes against evolution and puts your health at risk, according to researchers at Harvard in the Nov. 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Humans have evolved to be active in their later years and staying active can protect against heart disease and a number of other serious health problems.

It’s a widespread idea in Western societies that as we get older, it’s normal to slow down, do less and retire. But the reverse is recommended. As we get older, it becomes even more important to stay physically active.

According to the report, physical activity later in life shifts energy away from processes that can harm health — such as excess fat storage — and toward cellular and DNA repair and maintenance. Those processes have been shown to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and depression.

One benefit of physical activity is a longer, healthier life. In the past, daily physical activity was necessary in order to survive but today we have to choose to exercise — physical activity for the sake of health and fitness.

The researchers noted that physical activity levels have fallen worldwide as machines and technology have replaced human labor and that Americans are less physically active than they were 200 years ago.

The key is to do something and to try to make it enjoyable so you’ll keep doing it. Even small amounts of physical activity — just 10 or 20 minutes a day — improve your life expectancy.