More evidence: How much do you need?

A long-term study of 35 years has added even more fuel to the fire.

This time, the Medical Research Council, the Alzheimer’s Society and the British Heart Foundation teamed together to fund a study that demonstrates that a healthy lifestyle ultimately pays off in old age.

Back in 1979, over 2,000 men between the ages of 25 and 49 in South Wales were asked to follow this very simple health regime: eat well, work out, keep alcohol consumption low, keep their body weight in the healthy range and never smoke. A simple and sensible plan that clearly paid big dividends.

The sad part is that only 25 of the initial group managed to stick to the plan. Now that part is appalling! The 25 brave souls out of the over 2,000 participants are all far healthier, and fitter than the others in the study who gave up their commitment to the healthy lifestyle recommendations.

Here’s what the recommendations were. The physical part was to walk two miles a day, or cycle 10 or more miles a day or engage in some other regular vigorous activity. The study participants gave regular reports of their physical activity, their alcohol consumption, and their diet and every five years the men were re-questioned and examined to determine new cases of diabetes, heart disease or strokes.

No surprise, researchers found that the seniors who had followed the recommendations and were non-smoking, at a healthy weight, ate a diet high in fruit and vegetables, engaged in regular exercise and consumed low amounts of alcohol had the lowest incidence of chronic diseases. The initial study had focused on heart disease but as the study went on, it was noted that those who adhered most closely with the healthy recommendations dramatically cut their risk of cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and dementia as well.

Dr. Peter Elwood, the study leader from Cardiff School of Medicine, stated that we must wake up to the preventative power of living a healthy life. Health lifestyle behaviors are far more beneficial than any medical treatment or medical preventative treatment. The statistics showed that the development of heart disease was delayed by up to 12 years and dementia was delayed by about six years. Furthermore the chances of developing dementia was reduced by up to 60 percent with regular exercise having the single biggest impact on the dementia criteria. Professor Elwood stated that although exercise had the most impact on the deferment or avoidance of ill health, the emphasis of the study was overall healthy lifestyle, and although exercise was most impactful the other component followed closely in their effect.

Dr. Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society commented that it has been known for some time that what is good for your heart is good for your head, and this study provides important confirming evidence to demonstrate that healthy living may significantly reduce the chances of developing dementia.

My perspective on this is we know this to be true. It is not 1979 anymore and we have incredible amounts of confirming evidence to indicate the best way to live and to grow old is the healthy way. Eat more organic plant based food, don’t smoke, drink lightly, and exercise daily, and hang out with happy positive people and you’ve got the ticket to a long happy healthy life with fun along the way. Who wants to grow old and be full of pain, disease and not be able to look after themselves? Be dignified in your life all the way to the end! Aloha nui loa , Jane.

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

The body is not a frozen sculpture. It is a river of information — a flowing organism empowered by millions of years of intelligence.

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