A little exercise goes a long way

A new study by Steven Moore of the U.S. National Cancer Institute shows that as little as 75 minutes of physical activity a week can extend your life by nearly two years, no matter what your body weight.

The study, published in the PLOS Medicine journal, had researchers analysing data from 650,000 men and women over the age of 40 from both Sweden and the United States who reported their activity levels.

The data showed that incorporating physical activity for just over 10 minutes a day added 1.8 years to one’s life, when compared to those who had no physical activity in their daily routine.

The benefits are, of course, greater for those who participate in more physical activity. Those who reported engaging in brisk walking for 450 minutes a week – or just over an hour a day – increased their life expectancy by 4.5 years.

“More leisure-time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and body mass index groups,” researchers wrote in the study.

When weight was factored into the results, they found that those who have a healthy weight and are regularly active gained 7.2 years of life when compared to the overweight, inactive category. A person of healthy weight who is inactive may lose up to 4.7 years of life.

The researchers hope that these results will convince inactive people who have a healthy weight to begin incorporating exercise into their routine, not just for the weight loss benefits, but to increase their life expectancy. In recent years, just 15 per cent of Canadian adults were found to be participating in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.

“These findings reinforce the public health message that both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight are important for increasing longevity,” the study said.

The first 30 minutes of activity are most significant in terms of health gains, researchers say. You should be getting warm and at least a little bit sweaty during this time in order to really gain those extra years of life.

The study also found that long term cigarette smoking reduces one’s life by an average of 10 years.

Watch the video below for more information on the study:

Sources: PLOS Medicine, CBC

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Catherine Yeulet

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