Leisure-Time Physical Activity Adds Years to Your Life

Making News:

Exercising is a good idea if you want to live a long life. You know that. But have you wondered just how many years you might gain by heading out for a brisk walk?

A team of researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute may have the answer. Their study, published in PLOS Medicine (2012; 9 (11); e1001335. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335), quantified how much life adults gain by regularly engaging in certain levels of physical activity. The scientists pulled data from six studies that followed more than 650,000 people, aged 21–90, over an average of 10 years. “Our objective was to determine the years of life gained after age 40 associated with various levels of physical activity, both overall and according to body mass index (BMI) groups, in a large pooled analysis,” the authors explained.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • Low amounts of activity—such as 75 minutes of walking per week—resulted in a gain of 1.8 years of life, compared with no activity.
  • At least 150 minutes of physical activity per week yielded 3.4–4.5 extra years of life.
  • Being active in addition to having a normal weight was associated with an extra life expectancy of 7.2 years.
  • Being inactive while having a normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared with being active and obese.
  • An association between physical activity and life expectancy was evident among subjects at all levels of body mass index.

“These findings suggest that participation in leisure time physical activity, even below the recommended level, is associated with a reduced risk of mortality compared to participation in no leisure time physical activity,” reported the authors.

They added that this information could be used to encourage sedentary individuals to engage in at least minimal amounts of regular activity.

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Ryan Halvorson

IDEA Author/Presenter
Ryan Halvorson is the associate editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; a Performance Speciali... more less
February 2013

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Article Comments

Carroll George
On Nov 24, 2013
I am 94, 2months into my 95th year. At 93 I ran a 5k race with my great grand kits in 56 minutes. I take no medication. no continuing akes or pain other than asociated at times with injury since retireing 28 years ago.
I do respect that our muscles and the ligaments they are connected to must get stretched to maintain tone, and that joints must be exercised throughout their complete motion they are built for. Since my wife passed on in 07 I have been making my bed at rising time before getting dressed. Doing 20 situps on the bed, turning both my head and eyes as far as they will go, right, up and left sequentially each stroke(abit of far eastern yoga added to western calesthenics). Then 20 push ups on the bed, supported at the knee. Then 20 deep knee bends combined with motioning my arms and my head and eye muscles in all directions, plus 20 bend over touch floor and go through all those muscle motions stretching the muscles and connected ligamants.
I have never used any exercise equipment or exercised in a gym. I do try to arrange for as much full partial pressure of oxigen available to breathe during my exercise knowing that hoursw or constant breathing of seceral persons in a closed volume has a real effect on the most critical oxygen partial pressure so essential to life. Proverb 17:22 A merry heart does good like medicine. I maintain thankful upbeat attitude all the time.

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