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Any Amount of Exercise is Good

Moving more and sitting less is linked with longer life.

Physical activity good for longer life span

Another study adds to growing evidence that any amount of physical activity is linked with living longer and that prolonged sitting is bad for health. Study authors support the message to “sit less—move more and more often” to promote health.

In a meta-analysis of eight studies from the U.S., the U.K. and Scandinavia, an international research group examined activity and health data from more than 36,300 participants who wore accelerometers for about 6 years. The fact that these study findings were based on accelerometer data is important since prior research on activity and risk of death from all causes depended on self-reported data. Study authors noted, “Self-reported physical activity is prone to misreporting because people may often regard their levels of physical activity as higher than they are . . . which means that results are biased towards the null (no association).”

Data analysis showed that the most active quarter of subjects had a 60% lower risk of dying prematurely than the least active quarter. About 24 minutes per day, or 168 minutes per week, of moderate-to-intense physical activity provided the greatest risk reduction. More activity did not seem to further lower premature death risk. This is good news to share, as that amount of activity is reasonably achievable. Sitting more than 9.5 hours per day was associated with a greater risk of dying younger.

The study is available in BMJ (2019; 366 [14570]).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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