Even Small Changes Boost Couch Potatoes’ Health

September 5, 2006

By Patricia Reaney

NORWICH (Reuters) – Even small changes can help confirmed couch potatoes improve their health and live longer, scientists said on Tuesday.

Although the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet are well known, people may think they have to make major changes in their lifestyle to obtain any results.

But data from a large study of 15,000 middle-aged and elderly people living in England shows that any increase in physical activity is beneficial.

“Simply … moving from being totally inactive or sedentary to having any sort of physical activity — less than half an hour on average of daily activity or more — can be associated with something like a 20 percent lower risk of death in the next 10 years,” said Dr Kay-Tee Khaw of the University of Cambridge.

“That is the equivalent of two to three years of extra life expectancy,” she told a news conference at the BA Festival of Science.

The EPIC Norfolk study is part of a larger European project involving half a million people in 10 countries which examines the impact of exercise, diet and other habits on health.

Consuming just one additional serving of healthy food a day can make a difference.

“If you cumulatively take a lot of these behaviors such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing physical activity very modestly and stopping smoking, cumulatively they are associated with something like a 12-year difference in terms of chronological age and life expectancy,” said Khaw.

“So really quite limited differences in lifestyle can be associated with substantial impact on life expectancy.”

Source: reuters

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