Lifestyle-related diseases among middle-age and elderly people have become serious problems. Underlying causes might be related to the changes in the lifestyle including the absence of regular physical exercise.
To clarify the significance of regular physical exercise to prevent lifestyle-related diseases, we studied motor functions and blood chemistry examinations in middle-age and elderly women (over 40 years old) who performed regular physical exercise for 2 years (exercise group) and those who initially did not (control group).
In study 1, VO2max significantly increased in the exercise group compared with the control group in the under 60 years old groups. In the over 60 years old groups, VO2max, foot balance, and HDL-cholesterol significantly increased. Plasma glucose at 120 minutes after the 75 g oral glucose tolerance test, fasting insulin, homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-R), and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) significantly decreased in the exercise group compared with the control group. In study 2, a 1-year exercise program significantly improved physical functions and biochemical markers in the control group.
These results suggest that regular physical exercise might help to maintain sound motor functions and decrease insulin resistance and a risk for arteriosclerosis.
Kamijo is with the Dept of Health and Physical Education, Faculty of Education, and both authors are with the Dept of Clinical Laboratory Medicine, Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine, Maebashi, Gunma 371-8511, Japan.