The results of the “Generation 100 Study” show that regular high-intensity training not only increases fitness but also has an additional positive effect on life expectancy. Of most 70 to 77-year-olds in Norway, 90 percent will survive the next five years. In the Generation 100 study, however, more than 95 percent of the 1500 participants survived this period, the researchers report.
High-intensity training seems to be associated with increased life expectancy in older people, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) report their latest study results. These were published in the English-language journal “BMJ”.
So-called high-intensity training (HIT) can improve the physical and mental quality of life in older people and apparently also has positive effects on life expectancy.
Participants were divided into three groups
A longer life through sports training?
The participants were randomly divided into three different training groups at the beginning of the study in 2012. One group did high-intensity training twice a week using the 4X4 method, while the second group was instructed to train for 50 minutes at constant, moderate intensity two days a week. Participants could choose whether to train alone or participate in group training with guidance.
The third group served as a control group. These people were advised to train according to the recommendations of the Norwegian Health Authorities. The group was not offered organized training under the auspices of Generation 100. However, the participants were involved in regular health checks and fitness assessments.
Effects of HIT on life expectancy?
“In the interval training group, three percent of the participants had died after five years. In the moderate training group, the percentage was six percent. The difference is not statistically significant, but the trend is so clear that we believe the results provide a good reason to recommend high-intensity training for older people,” the expert adds. Of the participants in the control group, 4.5 percent died within five years.
“Both the physical and mental quality of life was better in the high intensity group after five years than in the other two groups. High-intensity interval training also had the greatest positive effect on fitness,” study author Dorthe Stensvold reports in a press release.
One challenge in interpreting the results was that the participants in the control group trained more than the research group had expected. One in five people in this group trained regularly at high intensity and ended up doing more high-intensity training on average than the participants in the moderate group. This could explain why this group was between the other two groups in terms of survival, the researchers explain.
People enrolled in the study were probably highly motivated from the beginning and they also started with a relatively high level of activity, the researchers report. And most of them would have considered themselves healthy.
When asked whether this study provides definitive proof that exercise prolongs life, Stensvold said: “I would like to answer with a clear and unequivocal yes, because we believe that this is true. But exercise is probably not the only reason why so few of the Generation 100 participants have died compared to the usual life expectancy in this age group.
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