Walk Your Way to a Longer Life, Study Says

Article Index
Walk Your Way to a Longer Life, Study Says
Page 2
All Pages
Physical activity after age 40 can increase life expectancy by up to 7 years, researchers find

alt

It seems your grandmother was right after all -- if you want to live a longer and healthier life, be sure to exercise.

A new study by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute found that staying physically active after age 40 seems to increase your lifespan between two and seven years. And the more you exercise, the longer your life expectancy -- regardless of your weight.

"There is dose-response relationship between physical activity and life expectancy," said investigator Steven Moore, a National Cancer Institute research fellow. "If you don't currently do any physical activity, doing just a few minutes of physical activity a day can result in a notable increase in life expectancy."

Exercise may extend life by helping to prevent often fatal diseases, Moore said, adding that other studies have linked physical activity to a lower risk for heart disease and several cancers.

The bottom line, he said: "Some physical activity is good, more is better."

For the study, published online Nov. 6 in the journal PLoS Medicine, Moore and his colleagues pooled data from six previously published studies that included more than 650,000 people. Using this data, the researchers were able to calculate the years of life gained after age 40 from various levels of physical activity.

The researchers found that a small increase physical activity -- such as brisk walking for about 75 minutes a week -- added 1.8 years of life. That's a 19 percent decrease in the risk of dying compared with not doing any exercise, the researchers said.

For those who walked 150 to 299 minutes a week, which is the amount of physical activity recommended by the U.S. government, the gain in life expectancy was 3.4 years, the study authors found.

More vigorous activity, such as walking up to 450 minutes a week added 4.5 years of life.

Gains in lifespan were seen for all people, whether they were normal weight, overweight or obese, the researchers added.

The biggest increase in life expectancy was 7.2 years for those of normal weight and who exercised at the levels recommended by the U.S. government, compared to an obese person who didn't exercise, the study found.

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, called the new research a "study of profound importance, with a message both compelling and clear: exercise can add years to your life."



Walk The Talk

Experts
Our trusted experts explore ways and offer tips to incorporate walking into your daily life.
Community
Groups across America, of all ages and abilities, are finding a new sense of community by walking.
Health
Just 30 minutes of walking, five times a week, is enough to improve your overall health.
Inspiration
Walking is also good for mind and soul, sparking your creativity and inspiration.