We know from various studies that you can actually increase your longevity with exercise. But, which ones are the most beneficial? A study(1) divided 2613 Finnish athletes into three groups: 1. ENDURANCE ATHLETES (runners, cyclers) 2. POWER ATHLETES (boxers, weights) and 3. TEAM SPORTS (soccer, basketball, hockey). The results, when compared to Finnish non-athletes are that 1. Power athletes live 1.6 yrs. longer. 2. Team sports produced 4.0 extra years and 3. Endurance sports resulted in 5.7 extra years of life.
The key here is V02 max or the maximum amount of oxygen needed for exercise. Activities that require you to breath the hardest are the best. Jogging has other advantages in that it’s the best calorie burner per minute of exercise. It will strengthen you knees and bones. It improves brain function including memory. This and most exercises improves mood and helps prevent depression.
You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from aerobic exercise even as we age. Most seniors I know become involved with distance walking, cycling or aerobic classes. We lose muscle mass as we age, so I believe that some weights should be involved in your routine for a balanced workout. If you are running, the baseline for benefits are 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you’re walking for your exercise, then it is 30 minutes 5 times a week.
(1) Serna, S. et al. “Increased Life Expectancy of World Class Male Athletes” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol 25, #2. Feb 1993.