Fun Physical Activity Extends Life up to 4.5 years

NIH study finds leisure-time physical activity extends life expectancy as much as 4.5 years

Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, which found that people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years, appeared Nov. 6, 2012, in PLoS Medicine External Web Site Policy.

Couple on bike ride
A man adjusts a woman’s helmet strap as they prepare for a bicycle ride.

In order to determine the number of years of life gained from leisure-time physical activity in adulthood, which translates directly to an increase in life expectancy, researchers examined data on more than 650,000 adults. These people, mostly age 40 and older, took part in one of six population-based studies that were designed to evaluate various aspects of cancer risk.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of NIH, recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 engage in regular aerobic physical activity External Web Site Policy for 2.5 hours at moderate intensity — or 1.25 hours at vigorous intensity — each week. Moderate activities are those during which a person could talk but not sing. Vigorous activities are those during which a person could say only a few words without stopping for breath.

After accounting for other factors that could affect life expectancy, the researchers found that life expectancy was 3.4 years longer for people who reported they got the recommend level of physical activity. People who reported leisure-time physical activity at twice the recommended level gained 4.2 years of life. In general, more physical activity corresponded to longer life expectancy.

Bar chart of life expectancy lossese
This bar graph displays years of life loss at various body weights and levels of activity (met guidelines, 50 of guidelines, and inactive). For normal weight, the years lost by activity level were 0, 2.4 and 4.7. For overweight, 0. 1.8 and 3.9. For Obese Level 1 (BMI under 35), 1.6, 3.2, and 5. For Obese Level 2 (BMI over 35), 4.5, 6.2, 7.2.

The researchers even saw benefit at low levels of activity. For example, people who said they got half of the recommended amount of physical activity still added 1.8 years to their life.

“Our findings highlight the important contribution that leisure-time physical activity in adulthood can make to longevity,” said study author Steven Moore, Ph.D., of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and lead author of the study. “Regular exercise extended the lives in every group that we examined in our 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. The relationship between life expectancy and physical activity was stronger among those with a history of cancer or heart disease than among people with no history of cancer or heart disease.

The researchers also examined how life expectancy changed with the combination of both activity and obesity. Obesity was associated with a shorter life expectancy, but physical activity helped to mitigate some of the harm. People who were obese and inactive had a life expectancy that was between five to seven years shorter (depending on their level of obesity) than people who were normal weight and moderately active.

Bar chart of life expectancy gains
This bar graph displays the years of life gained when participants met various percentages of HHS guidelines for physical activity. 50% = 1.8 years. 100% = 3.4 years. 200% = 4.2 years. 300% = 4.5 years.

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.

“We must not underestimate how important physical activity is for health – even modest amounts can add years to our life,” said I-Min Lee, M.D., Sc.D. External Web Site Policy, professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass., and senior author on the study.

This work was supported by NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics under intramural project number ZIACP010196 and by NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences under grants CA105069 and CA047988. Additional support was received from two other parts of the NIH, the National Institute on Aging (AG18033), and the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (HL043851 and HL080467).

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visithttp://www.nih.gov.

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Reference: Moore SC, et al. Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. PLoS Medicine. November 6, 2012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335.

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Insulin spray aided memory in Alzheimer’s study

Insulin spray aided memory in Alzheimer’s study

A spritz of insulin in the nose each day helped improve memory skills in people with Alzheimer’s-linked memory problems.

By Julie Steenhuysen, ReutersMon, Sep 12 2011 at 4:05 PM EST
insulin
INSULIN: Studies have suggested a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. And several animal studies suggest insulin given through the nose — which delivers it only to the brain — can improve the performance of diabetic mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease. (Photo: .:[ Melissa ]:./flickr)
CHICAGO – A daily spritz of insulin in the nose helped improve memory skills in people with Alzheimer’s-linked memory problems, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
Patients in a small study — who include people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and a pre-Alzheimer’s condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment, or aMCI — showed improvement in overall cognitive function. Those who got the lower dose also showed improvements in recalling details of a story after a brief delay.
“Our results suggest that the administration of intranasal insulin may have a therapeutic benefit for adults with aMCI or Alzheimer’s disease,” Suzanne Craft of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Neurology.
The study involved 104 patients with mild cognitive decline or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s experts warn that findings need to be confirmed in larger, longer trials, but they said it was a welcome advance at a time when few treatments have shown any sign of improving memory troubles in these patients.
“Anything that shows benefits even in stabilizing cognitive decline is worth noticing right now. Obviously, like any other study, it has to be replicated and independently confirmed. If that happens, then there will be a lot of interest in moving in this direction,” Dr. Sam Gandy of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centerin New York said in a telephone interview.
Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 36 participants got a moderate dose of insulin sprayed daily into their nose, 36 patients got a higher dose daily and 30 participants got a placebo daily for four months.
All treatments were given through a nasal drug delivery device made by Kurve Technology of Bothell, Washington.
The team looked to see if the treatment had any effect on how well study volunteers could remember a story right after they heard it and a after a short lapse in time.
After four months, the group that got the moderate insulin dose — 20 International Units or IU — showed improvements in delayed story recall compared with the placebo group. There is no improvement in the group that got the high dose of insulin — 40 IU — compared with the placebo group.
Both groups that got insulin also showed improvements in general thinking skills on a common assessment test known as ADAS-cog.
“Taken together, these results provide an impetus for future clinical trials,” Craft and colleagues wrote.
Dr. James Galvin of New York University Lang one Medical Center said although the study was small, it provides “some of the most convincing evidence to date that insulin treatment may alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.”
He said studies in large groups of people have suggested a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. And several animal studies suggest insulin given through the nose — which delivers it only to the brain — can improve the performance of diabetic mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s interesting and promising. What it tells us for sure is this needs to be explored further in larger and longer trials,” said Dr. Laurie Ryan, program director for Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials at the National Institute on Aging, one of theNational Institutes of Health, which funded the study.
But she remained cautious. “In patients, anything can look good at this stage,” she said in a telephone interview.
More than 5.4 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.
Current drugs temporarily treat symptoms, but there are no drugs that stop progression of Alzheimer’s, which is fatal.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)