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November 15, 2005

Sloth: Perhaps not a sin, but still deadly

Today's Seattle Times summarizes the findings of a long-term study of how exercise improves health:

People who engaged in moderate activity — the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes a day for five days a week — lived about 1.3 to 1.5 years longer than those who were less active. Those who took on more intense exercise — the equivalent of running half an hour a day for five days every week — extended their lives by about 3.5 to 3.7 years, the researchers found.

In other words, sloth kills, and even moderate exercise can lead to a longer, healthier life.  Which is something to keep in mind next time you're in the market for a place to live -- choosing a home where it's as convenient to walk to the store as to drive could actually save your life.

Posted by ClarkWD | Permalink


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I'm not sure these numbers are compelling, Clark.

1.5 years longer for moderate exercise? That's it? Isn't there supposed to be great, fantastic health reasons for moderate exercise?

There have got to be more compelling numbers out there, like moderate exercise makes you healthier and consequently your lifetime med bills will be, say, 40% lower, and for an average person that means, oh, I don't know: $50,000.00 or something.

50K is ten trips to Vegas in the Winnebago, honey!

I'm not a bike commuter because I'm going to live a paltry 3 years longer. I'm trying to ward off nasty, debilitating diseases that will cost lots of money and make me die a slow, miserable death and make my family miserable. I want to die an old man, quickly, by heart attack, in bed with Sophia Loren.

Ahem. Did I say that? :o)

But, this coincides with one of my larger points: in order to effect change, you have to have compelling numbers, but that alone is not good enough.

These numbers, to me, aren't compelling enough to spur action.

Posted by: Dan Staley | Nov 15, 2005 11:37:49 AM

My sentiments, exactly, Dan. Except, for me, make it with Paul McCartney instead of Sophia Loren!

But I did find these parts of the article to be more compelling for choosing to live in an exercise-friendly neighborhood:

[E]xercising regularly also enables people to live healthier lives, free from a host of chronic illnesses that can make it hard for people to enjoy their later years.

In addition, recent studies have found that exercise has payoffs for the mind, too. It has been shown to improve overall well-being, reduce stress and depression and cut the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, several experts said.

"The benefits of physical activity extend well beyond the effects on longevity," said JoAnn Manson of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Posted by: Michelle Parker | Nov 15, 2005 2:51:45 PM

The chicks always go for the guitar players...

I take your point, Michelle, I just want that info made actionable or compelling. Our sciency-folk aren't very good at that (one of the things I'm working on).

Posted by: Dan Staley | Nov 15, 2005 5:47:23 PM

Having a healthy mind, heart and body sounds pretty actionable and compelling to me! I want to be able to look good, think straight and actually remember who Sir Paul is in my twilight years!

And hey, he's not just a guitarist . . .

He's a bassist, keyboardist, drummer and percussionist, singer, songwriter, vegetarian, activist, and dedicated family man. A true inspiration! And, man, can he sing great harmony!

Posted by: Michelle Parker | Nov 15, 2005 6:54:00 PM

Michelle, I think you're blushing a bit. :o)

I agree about YOUR actionable, but looking around me in rural western WA, that's apparently not actionable for many.

I don't know what 'it' might be, but I suspect it's a simple metric, or cost, or something to capture attention in this era of information overload and time constraints.

Maybe it will happen after more for-profit hospitals close and aging boomers can't get a hospital bed after the diagnosis helps them realize the result of their non-walking lifestyle...

Posted by: Dan Staley | Nov 16, 2005 8:35:40 AM

Blushing? Nah, that's just my naturally sanguine complexion after a refreshing daily walk, and from the exuberance of seeing something today that I've never seen before:

An azalea bush STILL BLOOMING with gorgeous pink flowers, and filled with tons of fresh buds, while AT THE SAME TIME its leaves are all turning the most beautiful crimson red with golden yellow streaks.

It's like seeing Spring, Summer, and Fall all together on one single bush! Awesome!

Posted by: Michelle Parker | Nov 16, 2005 1:33:18 PM

Wow. M37 is unconstitutional and now that. What could be better?

Ericaceae is my favorite plant family, and azalea might be my favorite plant. When I had my little landscaping business, if I couldn't leave azaleas behind, I didn't take the job. Buckley literally explodes in rhodies in the spring, but if I have my way, we're getting some azaleas around here...


Posted by: Dan Staley | Nov 16, 2005 8:04:35 PM

The question is whether the time invested in exercise yields a good return at the end of your life.


As Mike says, would you rather have 30 minutes now, or 45 minutes in 40 years?

Posted by: Maarten | Nov 17, 2005 2:24:12 PM

Good points, Maarten and Mike.

And as Mike also says, "[Exercise] is less about vague threats of vague future costs than about the effects of right now. If [doctors] want to sell exercise, maybe they should focus on how it improves your life now."

That's one of the things I love about daily walks. It's totally about being alive here and now. Breathing the fresh air. Experiencing the sights, sounds and wonders of each day. That's another reason why it pays to live in a neighborhood that encourages walking rather than driving: Sometimes it's just nice to have a destination to get to on a refreshing walk!

Posted by: Michelle Parker | Nov 17, 2005 3:57:46 PM