Body size – height and weight – can affect women's lives much more than men, suggests the study published online at Journal of epidemiology and public health,
And while physical activity is associated with a longer life of both sexes, it seems that the more time men spend physically active each day, the better their chances of reaching old age, while 60 minutes a day relate to the best chance for women. , show the findings.
Average life expectancy has risen over the last few decades, but has recently begun to plummet in some developed countries, with increasing levels of obesity and physical inactivity that are believed to be behind this trend.
Previous studies have looked at the relationships between weight (BMI or body mass index), physical activity and old age, but most studies combine both sexes or focus exclusively on men.
The lives of women and men differ, which can be influenced by factors such as hormones, genes and / or lifestyle.
To investigate these differences later, scientists analyzed data from the Dutch Cohort Study (NLCS), which included more than 120,000 men and women between the ages of 55 and 69 when it began in 1986.
They wanted to see if there was any connection between height, weight, physical activity for leisure, and the likelihood of 90 years of age and whether there were any differences between men and women.
About 7,807 participants (3646 men and 4,161 women between the ages of 68 and 70) provided detailed information in 1986 about their current weight, height, weight when they were 20 years of age, and about the physical activity of leisure.
This includes activities such as gardening, dog walks, home improvement, walking or biking and recreational sports that have been grouped into daily allowance categories: less than 30 minutes; 30 to 60 minutes; and 90 minutes or more.
Participants were then observed to death or 90 years of age, whichever comes first.
Researchers consider potentially influential factors such as whether participants are current or former smokers, how much they have drunk, what their educational achievements, and the usual energy reception.
Around 433 men (16.7%) and 944 women (34.4%) survived to 90 years of age.
The women who were still alive up to that age were on average higher, weighed less at the beginning of the study, and had reduced their weight since the age of 20 than those who were shorter and heavier.
Moreover, women with a height of over 175 cm (5 feet 9 inches) are 31% more likely to reach 90 than women less than 160 cm (5 feet 3 inches).
Such associations were not observed among men.
And when it came to levels of physical activity, men who moved over 90 minutes a day had 39% more likely to reach 90 than those who did less than 30 minutes.
And every additional 30-day physical activity they gained was associated with a 5% increase in their chances of becoming 90 years of age.
But this was not the case with women. Those who have spent more than 30-60 minutes a day are 21% more likely to reach 90 than those who manage 30 minutes or less.
But there seems to be an optimal threshold for women: about 60 minutes a day were associated with the best chance of celebrating the 90th anniversary.
This is observation and therefore can not establish a reason. Information about body size and physical activity was rather voluntary than objectively measured, which could affect the results, researchers say.
But the findings are based on a large number of people, all of whom are similar in age, which strengthens the results, they say, adding that their study is one of the few that distinguishes the lifestyle factors associated with long-lived men. and women.
There may be no relationship between body size and age at men, researchers said. But the behavior and the history of the illness appear to affect the found associations and there are differences between smokers and non-smokers.
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