Just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven years to your life, according to health experts.
Researchers have found that moderate exercise could halve the risk of dying from a heart attack for someone in their fifties or sixties.
Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer, causing one death every seven seconds, and exercise has long been seen as a way to reduce the risks by cutting obesity and diabetes.
A new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress suggested that regular exercise can increase life span.
A group of 69 healthy non-smokers, aged between 30 and 60, who did not take regular exercise were tested as part of the study at Saarland University in Germany.
Blood tests taken during six months of regular aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training showed that an anti-ageing process had been triggered and helped repair old DNA.
“This suggests that when people exercise regularly, they may be able to retard the process of ageing,” said Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London.
“We may never avoid be-coming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties.
“Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
The advice from experts is that everyone should do at least 20 minutes of walking or jogging a day, given the sedentary lifestyles and changes in diet that have contributed to high death rates from heart disease. Exercise can also improve brain functioning.
Exercise brings benefits at whatever age the person starts. People who start exercising at the age of 70 are less likely to go on to develop a condition that leads to irregular or racing heart rates in 10 per cent of people aged over 80.
“The study brings a bit more understanding of why physical activity has that effect,” said Christi Deaton, Florence Nightingale Foundation Professor of Clinical Nursing Research at Cambridge Institute of Public Health.
“It helps us understand the process of cellular ageing, as that’s what drives our organ system and body ageing, and the effects physical activity can have on the cellular level.
“The more active you are, and it doesn’t matter when you start, the more benefit you are going to have.”
Luxury trekking lodges
Luxury trekking lodges
1/6 Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
Made up of 85 casitas (small houses) tucked among the trees of the Peruvian Andes, this resort is surrounded by hot springs and walking routes; crucially, it is within easy access of the Inca Trail. The houses overlook either the orchid gardens or the Vilcanota River, and are decorated with local materials – think eucalyptus- beamed ceilings and thick alpaca-wool blankets. Each has a dining area, and some feature fireplaces, terraces and plunge pools. Also on offer is a glass-walled restaurant, and a wooden hut housing a spa that offers treatments with an Andean twist.
Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Peru (00 51 1 6100 400; inkaterra.com). Doubles from US$319 (£213), B&B.
2/6 Fogo Island Inn, Canada
Fogo Island Inn, Canada
Located on an island off the coast of Newfoundland, this X-shaped lodge is perched on stilts. The building's angles and vertical lines complement the rough slabs of ancient granite that surround it. Inside, the lodge is decorated with traditional furniture, hand-crafted quilts and woven rugs. The 29 suites each have floor-to-ceiling windows framing the Atlantic surf outside, and most also have a wood-burning fireplace, where you can warm up after a day hiking the coastal trails.
Joe Batt's Arm, Newfoundland, Canada (001 709 658-3444; fogoislandinn.ca). Doubles from CA$875 (£469), room only.
3/6 Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
This family-owned lodge, in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, sleeps 30 guests, and includes activities such as night walks, game drives, horseback safaris, and bush walks in the price of a stay. Rooms are split across two locations; the main site, the Motse, has nine cottages with four-poster canopy beds, stone walls, outdoor showers, and wooden decks from which guests can watch the wildlife. There is also a spa. The second site, Tarkuni, is the owners' private retreat, and can be booked for groups of up to 10.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa (00 27 053 781 9331; tswalu.com). Doubles from R10,600 (£606), full-board.
4/6 Longitude 131, Australia
Longitude 131, Australia
Forget fighting the crowds for a view of the sunrise over Uluru; here you can admire it from your own room. These 15 luxury tented pavilions in Australia's Red Centre are perched on stilts, and feature glass walls with sliding doors opening out on to views of the iconic rock formation. Each room also comes with a complimentary bar, an iPad and wi-fi. In the main Dune House is a library of books, maps, historical artefacts, movies and games, while outside there's a pool with a terrace.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia (00 61 08 8957 7131; longitude131.com.au). Doubles from A$1,100 (£568), full-board.
5/6 Shakti 360 Leti, India
Shakti 360 Leti, India
With just four private guest pavilions, this mountain lodge will suit those after peace and quiet. Ringed by the Himalayas in the in the state of Uttarakhand, the lodge sits in stunning wilderness, 8,000ft above sea level. Guests can enjoy mountain and village walks, go rafting or fishing in nearby rivers, or take yoga and meditation sessions. Tuck into a gourmet meal in the communal lounge-dining area and watch the sunset by the outdoor fire pit.
Kumaon, Uttarakhand, India (00 91 124 456 3899; shaktihimalaya.com). A three-night minimum stay costs $2,400 (£93)pp, all inclusive.
6/6 Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
Situated in Morocco's Atlas Mountains, this luxurious fortress was bought by Sir Richard Branson during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. The resort has 27 rooms, including nine berber-style tents, the sort traditionally used by the North African tribe. However, you won't be camping in the traditional sense; these tents come with private decks, sun loungers, king-size beds and roll-top baths. Some even have their own private Jacuzzi. All suites are individually decorated using traditional Moroccan furnishings and antiques. And for those seeking a truly lavish stay, check into the Master Suite. It's styled like a miniature kasbah, with three bedrooms, a large roof terrace and a private pool. If you can tear yourself away, there are plenty of options to get out into the surrounding area, from short village walks to longer mountain hikes.
Asni, Morocco (020 8600 0430; virginlimitededition.com). Doubles from MAD4,890 (£339), B&B.
Heart attacks are mainly triggered by coronary heart disease, which kills around 73,000 people in the UK every year and is the leading cause of death in both sexes. Heart disease generally affects more men than women, although from the age of 50 the chances of developing the condition are similar for both.
According to a separate study, hundreds of young people die every year from “electrical faults” in their otherwise healthy hearts triggered by intense sporting activity.
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a rare occurrence that affects one in 50,000 athletes, although most who die are men, researchers found. In the 35 year history of the London Marathon, only one woman has died compared to 13 men.
The study’s authors, from St George’s University Hospital in London, found that a large proportion of cases of SCD in sport occurred in people with anatomically normal hearts, but with inherited faults in the heart’s electrical system that causes them to miss beats and trigger death.Reuse content