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HEALTH

German study shows those who exercise regularly remain ‘younger’ longer

Recent analysis of data from a long-term study into the effects of an active lifestyle show those who led active lifestyles were around 10 years younger in terms of motor skills.

German study shows those who exercise regularly remain 'younger' longer
Photo: DPA

The 25-year study, run by the Sports Institute at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is called 'Gesundheit zum Mitmachen', which translates roughly to 'health through participating'.

It was initiated by sports scientists Klaus Bös und Alexander Woll and involved almost 500 volunteers from the Bad Schönborn in the state of Karlsruhe, the Stuttgarter Zeitung reports.

Since 1992 the participating men and women, aged between 35 and 80, were tested regularly on strength, flexibility, stamina and fine motor skills.

The unique long-term project has both scientific and practical purposes: the initiation and implementation of measures which promote health as well as the planning and conception of a long-term scientific study into the correlation between activity, fitness and health.

According to Klaus Bös, former head of the KIT Sports Institute, the question of nutrition was deliberately left out of the study as, “it would have gone beyond the scope of the framework and we simply lacked the sufficient expertise in that wide field.”

When the KIT study first began in 1992, 500 people aged 35 to 55 were chosen at random to be tested and were invited back for further testing every five years, alongside a new 'class' of 35-year-olds.

A little over 120 people took part in all the tests over the 25 year period, with a proportion of volunteers dropping out at various points along the way.

During each phase, subjects filled out questionnaires on their health and sporting habits. Their fitness was then assessed with physical tests observed by a doctor, a medical technical assistant and a sports scientist.

Blood samples, body fat measurements and psychological health of the volunteers were also studied.

Health problems inevitably increase with age but results from the KIT study confirm that people who regularly take part in active hobbies have far fewer complaints than those who are inactive.

Those who do not achieve 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, are three times more likely to develop circulatory, cardiovascular, orthopaedic and neurological problems, as well as being four times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, than those who are active. 

The KIT study also reports a significant increase in physical and sporting activities in the Bad Schönborn population.

The largest increase was visible for the age range of 51- to 60-year-olds as, while this age group took part in on average only 45 minutes of exercise per week in 1992, this had increased to 120 minutes by 2015.

According to Klaus Bös, it doesn't really matter what kind of sport you're doing.

“Sport has to fit with people, not vice versa,” which means it could be walking, jogging, bike riding, swimming or anything else that gets your heart-rate up.

HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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