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A Little Regular Exercise Extends Men's Lives
Date:1/23/2008

Brisk 30-minute walk a few days a week cut death risk in half, study found

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Even a moderate amount of exercise can dramatically prolong a man's life, new research on middle-aged and elderly American veterans reveals.

The government-sponsored analysis -- the largest such study ever -- found that a regimen of brisk walking 30 minutes a day at least four to six days a week was enough to halve the risk of premature death from all causes.

"As you increase your ability to exercise -- increase your fitness -- you are decreasing in a step-wise fashion the risk of death," said study author Peter Kokkinos, director of the exercise testing and research lab in the cardiology department of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

That conclusion applies more or less equally to white and black men, regardless of their prior history of cardiovascular disease. According to Kokkinos, that may be because the veterans in the study all received the same level of care, regardless of income.

This evened the playing field, he said, giving him "great confidence" in the results, which will be published in the Feb. 5 issue of Circulation and were released online Jan. 22.

In the study, Kokkinos and his team reviewed information gathered by the VA from 15,660 black and white male patients treated either in Palo Alto, Calif., or in Washington, D.C.

The men ranged in age from 47 to 71 and had been referred to a VA medical facility for a clinically prescribed treadmill exercise test sometime between 1983 and 2006. All participants were asked to run until fatigued, at which point the researchers recorded the total amount of energy expended and oxygen consumed.

The numbers were then crunched into "metabolic equivalents," or METS. In turn, the researchers graded the fitness of each man according to his MET score, ranging from "low-fit" (below 5 METS
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