Judson Haims: Exercise and time of day correlates to efficacy and mortality rate | AspenTimes.com

Judson Haims: Exercise and time of day correlates to efficacy and mortality rate

Judson Haims
Judson Haims
Courtesy photo

With little doubt, exercise plays a fundamental role in enhancing one’s health. However, new research indicates that duration and time of day may have profound effects on mortality.

Look around our mountain communities and you will see that the propensity of people take part in daily physical activities. However, it is not just people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who are exercising and enjoying physical activity. Our senior community members are skiing, golfing, hiking, biking, playing tennis, working out and taking classes at the recreation centers, and participating in classes offered at the senior centers.  

It is not by happenstance that the longevity of the seniors living within our mountain communities exceeds that of the rest of the nation. In May 2017, the Vail Daily published a series of articles that referenced a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The article, Inequalities in Life Expectancy Among US Counties, 1980 to 2014, was an analysis of counties within the U.S. with varying life expectancy – Summit, Pitkin, and Eagle counties ranked first, second and third respectively.

At the time the newspaper published the article, Summit County’s expected longevity was 86.83 years, Pitkin County’s was 86.52, and Eagle County’s was 85.52.  The most recent data addressing longevity in the U.S. comes from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). IHME’s most recent data is from 2019 and now shows that longevity for all three counties has increased — Summit County at 91.72 years, Pitkin County at 91.34, and Eagle County to 88.47.

Understandably, these numbers may appear questionable. However, it’s difficult to question what you can see. Last week, I met a friend for lunch who had a friend of his sitting with him. They had just finished playing basketball. During lunch I learned that my friend’s friend was 77 years young and had a hip replacement five years back. At 77, he was playing ball with people 20 to 30 years his junior. Similarly, we care for a client in Garfield County who is 92. Twice a week our caregivers go on walks with this lady — for 2 miles or more! It’s a slow walk, but the client does it with a commitment that’s impressive and inspirational.

As we age, not everyone may be as fortunate to be this active. Sometime life events occur that impede one’s ability to be so physically active. My mom had Parkinson’s and her mobility and cognition was often challenged. However, she rarely chose to sit and do nothing. Rather, she participated in weekly yoga and tai chi classes. She rarely let the disease impede her from moving and being physical. Likewise, one of our clients who has now passed, had kyphosis, a painful condition commonly known as “hunchback.” Sitting, laying in bed, and walking was quite challenging for him. However, at 96 years young, we were able to take him flyfishing and for walks up and down his street with use of a walker and gait belt. I reference these examples because these people demonstrate the fortitude and tenacity to keep moving and thus maintain the quality of life they value well in to their senior years.

Research is now providing scientific and measurable data proving that physical activity fosters a better quality of life and longevity. Circulation, a journal published by The American Heart Association, recently published research that stated people who followed the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans minimum guidelines (150-300 minutes/week) for moderate physical activity (walking, lower-intensity exercise, weightlifting and calisthenics), lowered their risk of dying from any cause by as much as 21% and 22-25% for cardio vascular disease. Adults who exercise two to four times the minimum may lower their mortality risk by as much as 31%.

Further, research is now proving that exercise at different times of day influences the efficacy of physical exercise. Researchers at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, conducted a study that investigated the effects and differences of exercising at various times of day between men and women.

Dr. Paul J Arciero, principal investigator and professor, recently stated in an article published in SCITECHDAILY that the results are intriguing and suggest that for men, “Evening exercise lowers blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, and feelings of fatigue, and burns more fat, compared to morning exercise.” He also states that, “We show for the first time that for women, exercise during the morning reduces belly fat and blood pressure, whereas evening exercise in women increases upper body muscular strength, power, and endurance, and improves overall mood and nutritional satiety.”

Given the effects on outcomes, exercising for a minimum of 2.5 hours a week and exercising at different times of day is worth considering. For those who cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly due to personal condition(s), try being as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow. A consistent regimen of exercise is essential for better health outcomes and quality of life.

While it’s important for everyone, older adults should make sure a portion of their weekly workouts include multifaceted physical activities like balance training, aerobic exercise, and muscle strengthening activities.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.

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