What do we know already?
Exercise has long been recognised as a good way to keep your weight down, avoid heart problems and boost mood. But despite this, few people in the UK do the recommended half an hour of exercise every day, or an hour for children.
Two new studies released this week give good reasons to keep exercising, whatever your age.
What do the new studies say?
The studies say:
- Teenagers who are genetically pre-disposed to become overweight are much less likely to do so if they exercise for an hour a day. Researchers looked at teens with one or more copies of a gene for obesity. They found that those who met exercise guidelines had less body fat, a lower BMI and a smaller waist measurement than those who didn't exercise
- Women aged 45 and older who walk briskly, or who walk for more than two hours a week, are less likely to have a stroke than less active women. The risk was reduced by about a third. Brisk walking is defined as a rate of 3 miles per hour. Interestingly, the researchers didn't find that other forms of vigorous exercise reduced stroke risk, but this was probably because few women in the study did vigorous exercise.
Children who become overweight are more likely to grow into obese adults, which puts them at higher risk of illness such as diabetes and cancer in later life. Stroke is a major cause of long-term disability and death in older people. So it's good news that a healthy, free activity such as exercise can help prevent these problems.