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Harvard scientists reveal how physical activity helps you live a longer and better life

U.S.A.Harvard scientists reveal how physical activity helps you live...

It’s a myth that older people should avoid moving to take care of their health / Getty

A scientific study conducted by researchers at Harvard University in the United States debunked a myth about older people. Many believed that it was necessary to slow down the pace of physical activity as people crossed the age of 60. but the truth is The body should not retire from physical activity, and the researchers’ work provided evidence showing that stopping or staying on a couch all day Traveling in transport rather than walking can be beneficial for living longer and well.

The study was published in the specialized journal PNAS Published by the United States Academy of Sciences. It presents evolutionary and biomedical evidence indicating that humans have evolved to live several decades after reproduction and to be relatively active in their later years.

Researchers say that Physical activity in old age diverts energy from processes that can compromise health and directs it to body systems that prolong it, His hypothesis—what he calls the “active grandmother hypothesis”—is that Humans evolved to be physically active as they age.

In doing so, energy is allocated to bodily processes that slow down the gradual degradation of the body over the years. It also protects against chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

Harvard University scientist Daniel Lieberman examines the benefits of physical activity throughout human development.  Runs every day (Photo: Harvard University)
Harvard University scientist Daniel Lieberman examines the benefits of physical activity throughout human development. Runs every day (Photo: Harvard University)

“In Western societies it is The idea has been widely spread that it is normal to slow down as we get older., reduce and retire,” said evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University, the paper’s lead author. “Our message is to the contraryAs we get older, it becomes even more important to be physically active”.

The research team, which includes Aaron Baggish and I-min Lee of Harvard Medical School, believes the work is the first detailed evolutionary explanation for why a lack of physical activity increases as humans age. Reduces disease risk and longevity. Baggish, 47, who is also a cardiologist for the New England Patriots football team. The lead author, Lieberman, is 57, and They are long-time friends and often discuss ideas in the article during the morning 8 to 16 kilometer run.

Humans share common ancestor with chimpanzees, who spend many hours sedentary (EFE)
Humans share common ancestor with chimpanzees, who spend many hours sedentary (EFE)

Study uses human human ape cousins ​​as starting point, The researchers note that the apes, which typically only live 35 to 40 years in the wild and rarely live past menopause, are significantly less active than most humans. This suggests that there was selection in human evolution not only to live longer, but also to be more physically active.

According to Lieberman, Human beings evolved from ancestors who were sedentary. They have seen wild chimpanzees twice in Tanzania and have been amazed at how much time they spend a day “sitting on their backs, digesting”.

this is particularly surprising When compared to contemporary hunter-gatherers, who engage in an average of 135 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day, That level of movement – ​​between six and ten times the average for Americans – may be one of the keys to why. Predators that survive infancy live for about seven decades, about 20 years before the age when humans usually stop having babies.

Being physically active, like cycling, increases human life expectancy / Getty
Being physically active, like cycling, increases human life expectancy / Getty

Fossil evidence indicates that this prolongation of life was common 40,000 years ago, contrary to the belief that human life was short until recently. The team stressed that the main health benefit of physical activity is the extension of human life expectancy, defined as the years of life spent in good health.

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The researchers examined two pathways by which physical activity throughout life reallocates energy to improve health. The first is to channel the excess energy away from potentially harmful mechanisms, such as fat storage. The team also identified how physical activity allocates energy for repair and maintenance processes. Work shows that, in addition to burning calories, physical activity is physically stressful and causes damage to the body at the molecular, cellular and tissue level.

However, the body’s response to this damage is essentially to strengthen itself. This includes repairing muscle fiber tears, repairing cartilage damage, and healing microfractures. The response also triggers the release of exercise-related antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, and improves blood flow. Conversely, when physical activity is not performed, those responses are less active. Cellular and DNA repair processes have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Physical activity helps the body carry out cellular and DNA repair processes, thus reducing the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and depression.  (Getty Images)
Physical activity helps the body carry out cellular and DNA repair processes, thus reducing the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. (Getty Images)

“The main thing to keep in mind is that as we evolve to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well. In the past, daily to survive Physical activity was essential, but today we have to choose exercise, that is, voluntary physical activity, for health and fitness,” Lieberman said.

The research team, which includes graduate students Timothy Kistner and Daniel Richard, hopes the study will make this message harder to ignore. Because the increase in sedentary lifestyle is worrying globally. Physical activity levels around the world have declined as machines and technology replace human work.

Another recent study from Lieberman’s lab showed that Americans get less physical activity than they did 200 years ago. Researchers’ advice based on scientific studies? You have to get up from the chair and do some exercise. “The key is to do something, and try to make it enjoyable so that you keep doing it,” Lieberman said. “The good news is that you don’t have to be as active as a hunter. Even small amounts of physical activity — just 10 to 20 minutes a day — substantially reduce the risk of mortality.” , “They said.

Even small amounts of physical activity – just 10 to 20 minutes a day – substantially reduce the risk of mortality (Getty Images)
Even small amounts of physical activity – just 10 to 20 minutes a day – substantially reduce the risk of mortality (Getty Images)

Almost everyone knows that exercise is good for your health. Some may also explain why it keeps muscles and joints strong, and how it fights certain diseases. but Lieberman’s research explained why and how physical activity was incorporated into human biology.

one of the physical activities The most recommended is brisk walking. You should walk 150 minutes briskly per week, as recommended by WHO. Walking briskly for 45 minutes every other day is ideal. When you count, you’ll be running for more than 150 minutes a week.

Walking is also indicated in case of overweight. Dr. Silvio Schreier, deputy director of the Barcelo Foundation’s expertise in nutrition in Argentina, recommends: “Ideally, you would be walking 10,000 steps per day, which can be measured with any mobile phone app.” And he remarked that you have to be patient to observe the weight loss.

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