Longevity: from Harvard the secret to warding off chronic diseases as we age

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Research underlines how physical activity is able to ward off chronic diseases related to old age

Research underlines how physical activity is able to ward off chronic diseases related to old age





Uno study by a team of evolutionary biologists at Harvard suggested that thephysical activity shifts the body's energy towards protective processes that strengthen health, and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. According to research, exercise redirects the metabolism, and counteracts the accumulation of fat, for example, protecting us from damage of aging.

Physical activity, in fact, creates a variety of stresses throughout the body that encourage the repair process. Sports stress can vary, ranging from the production of reactive chemicals in the blood to microscopic damage to bones and muscles; as the body moves to repair this tiny damage, the repair mechanism also acts on other cumulative damage that would otherwise have been ignored.

The research focused on the Hadza people, a group of hunter-gatherers originally from Tanzania. These practice a subsistence lifestyle, in which the elderly cannot afford to stop being active members of the community; and it is precisely this active lifestyle and their tightly controlled diet that bring about a host of health benefits. It has been observed, in fact, that they do not get diabetes, cancer rates are much lower, and heart disease does not exist or are very rare.

Therefore, for a better old age it is necessary to delay the onset of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and senile dementia; how? Through physical activity, that slows cell decay and reduces the rate of harmful diseases related to aging.

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Photos: Harvard University


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