Death and taxes, two things promised when born in the United States. Many do not wish to discuss death, for they fear it and know it usually brings a challenging time. Have you ever thought about the factors that reduce the risk of mortality? Especially within the aging years…
When discussing a reduction in mortality risk, we are finding the variables, and the statistics that have been shown to allow for a longer, healthier life. Let’s dive in!
If you haven’t heard, it’s true, sitting is the new smoking. Researchers have floated this idea for a number of years. The exact comparison becomes a challenge, however it is agreeable that extensive amounts of sitting have a negative affect on one’s health.
How much of a negative affect?
In a study reviewing community living older adults, it was found that watching three to four hours of television each day increased mortality risk by 15 percent. Each additional hours increased the risk three percent. While it is wonderful to enjoy a day full of your favorite television shows or movies, it is not recommended to do so day after day.
However, the reverse is quite simple. Replacing television with standing (per hour) reduces mortality risk five percent. Simply replacing sitting with standing, and the benefits outweigh the risk each hour. The reduction becomes even more substantial when television is replaced with exercise.
In a previous blog we mentioned walking was a piece of the pie when discussing an exercise routine. We stand by that with the idea that muscle strength is a large component of physical functioning. With that being said, walking is still very powerful.
In a recent study it was found, those who walk 2,000 steps versus those who walk 4,000 steps are at a substantially higher risk for all-cause mortality. The risk is said to be upwards of 50% greater. Taking a look at your health app on your iPhone or Android device may be a perfect starting point.
It was also found that, an increase of 1,000 steps to current routines lowers the risk by 11 percent with each additional increase. Therefore from 4,000 to 5,000 steps would lower mortality risk an additional 11 points, and so on and so forth.
Get to steppin’!
No, we aren’t saying you must mimic the strength of a bull, or even be the strongest person in the room. You must, however, take into consideration the amount of muscle and strength within both muscle and bone throughout your body.
In a study identifying risk factors for aging populations, it was found that bone mineral density is an important factor. Those who showed a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) were at a 19 percent greater risk for mortality due to fracture. It is well known, the increase of falls comes with age. The increase of fracture with each fall does as well when measures are not taken to prevent such. A simple fall, with lowered BMD, has the potential to land someone in the hospital and never return home.
However, the loss is preventable, or at the very least slowed. Resistance training for older adults has been reviewed vastly over previous decades. With increased strain on muscle also comes an increased strain on the bone. The loading of both muscle and bone creates an adaptive response thus creating healthier muscle and bone.
Each one percent increase in BMD represented a reduced mortality risk of four percent. When combining the gain from exercise, and the prevention of an increased risk, implementing resistance training would create a 23 percent swing when discussing all-cause mortality with relation to bone mineral density.
Frailty is often a word to describe those furthest along in the aging process. Those described as frail are typically thin with little to no muscle mass, slow moving or may be in a wheelchair, and seldom have energy for much of anything. This is the point to which many people associate aging. However, not only does frailty come very late in the process, it is also preventable with regular exercise.
As mentioned, the frailest individuals are often thin. Weight loss is a tell-tale sign of frailty and continued weight loss increases the risk for death. Those who have incurred drastic changes in their weight, most notably weight loss are at an 160 percent greater risk for mortality compared to those who have not.
Zero movement on a daily basis would clearly illustrate a problem, but the same can be said about slow movement. Those who have incurred a change in frailty based on the slowness of their gait are also at an 160 percent greater risk for all cause mortality compared to those who have not.
Similar to the occurrences above, both weight loss and slowness can be impacted with exercise with respect to all cause mortality. The key is to prevent frailty, clinically defined or not, from becoming a defining characteristic of aging for you or a loved one.
There are a number of influences on overall health that are often overlooked in the aging years. Each of which play a pivotal role in aging and even end of life. The proactive approach will always be the best way to take the lead on the aging process.