• Life expectancy can be increased with simple lifestyle changes
  • The world’s oldest woman was Jeanne Louse Calment (Feb 1875-Aug 1997)

Needless to say, good health is key to leading a long life. A new study has confirmed the effect of a healthy habit in promoting the life span of human beings, especially women.

The study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology has demonstrated that women who exercised vigorously are at a significantly lower risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.

Although exercise is vital for good health and longevity, there has not been adequate information pertaining to this fact among women. Also since women outlive men, more dedicated studies pertaining to this phenomenon are needed. The researchers sought to examine the exercise capacity and heart function in women when they exercised and its association with survival.

The study included 4714 women who indulged in treadmill exercise echocardiography due to known or suspected heart diseases. The participants were asked to walk or run on a treadmill and they gradually increased the intensity of the exercise until they felt completely exhausted.

Their heart images were generated during the test and their fitness levels were defined as a maximal workload which is the same as walking up four flights of stairs or climbing three flights faster without stopping.

The findings indicated the following:

  • When followed up for 4.6 years, there were several deaths from heart diseases, cancer, and other causes.
  • The metabolic equivalents were significantly linked to a lower risk of death from these health conditions.
  • The annual rate of death due to heart diseases was nearly four times higher among women with poor exercise capacity.

“Good exercise capacity predicted a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes. Most of the study participants were either middle-aged or older women: the average age was 64 and 80% were between 50 and 75. The results were the same for women over 60 and less than 60 although the group under 50 was small,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Jesús Peteiro, of University Hospital A Coruña, Spain.

The researchers assessed the function of the heart’s left ventricle during the exercise test and found that those with poor heart function during exercise were at an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. But the heart function determined during exercise was not able to predict one’s likelihood of dying from cancer or other causes.

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Paraguayan Anacleto Escobar and his wife Cayetana Roman smile during a ceremony coinciding with his 100th birthday in Neembucu, Paraguay, on Jan. 7, 2015. AFP/Getty Images