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Stanford University School of Medicine

Study shows regular physical activity, even modest amounts, can add years to your life

Here's a little motivation to not skip your fitness routine today: New research shows that people who regularly exercise, even in modest amounts, live longer regardless of whether they're overweight.

In the study, researchers examined how leisure-time physical activities in adulthood contributed to increased life expectancy. The analysis included six population-based studies involving 650,000 people age 40 or older. According to a release from the National Institutes of Health:

After accounting for other factors that could affect life expectancy, the researchers found that life expectancy was 3.4 years longer for people who reported they got the recommend level of physical activity. People who reported leisure-time physical activity at twice the recommended level gained 4.2 years of life. In general, more physical activity corresponded to longer life expectancy.

The researchers even saw benefit at low levels of activity. For example, people who said they got half of the recommended amount of physical activity still added 1.8 years to their life.


The researchers also examined how life expectancy changed with the combination of both activity and obesity. Obesity was associated with a shorter life expectancy, but physical activity helped to mitigate some of the harm. People who were obese and inactive had a life expectancy that was between five to seven years shorter (depending on their level of obesity) than people who were normal weight and moderately active.

Previously: Examining exercise and cancer survivorship, Exercise may boost heart failure patients’ mental and physical health, Study shows short, daily jogs boost longevity and How physical activity influences health
Photo by Don DeBold

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