The Connection Between Exercise and Longevity

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We all have a love/hate relationship with exercise. But, maybe the pendulum will tilt farther over to the “love” side when you consider this question: Does exercise make you live longer?

You will be pleased to know the official response is a resounding YES! 

Fitness buffs live longer than couch potatoes. It’s as simple as that. So, keep sweating it out at your favorite gym and remember as you are huffing and puffing that you are in fact adding years to your life. And of course, you will also be adding quality to those extra years by enhancing mind and spirit as well as body.

How Much Does Exercise Increase Life Expectancy?

Based on the results of a National Cancer Institute study, exercise and longevity are inexorably linked. In fact, those who exercise can expect to live as much as 4.5 years longer than their sedentary counterparts. That number is fluid depending on how much you exercise.

For example, research showed that people who performed moderate exercise for the CDC recommended 2.5 hours per week or vigorous exercise for 1.25 hours per week lived an average of 3.4 years longer than non-exercisers. Twice that amount of activity will open that gap to 4.2 years.

The study proved that any amount of exercise, no matter how small, is better than none at all. People who only exercised half the recommended amount extended their lives by nearly two years.

Why Exercise Helps Extend Life

Exercise is a key weapon in the fight against heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Aerobic activities like walking, jogging, and swimming or any of the fun cardio fitness classes available at the gym, help reduce bad cholesterol as well as lower blood pressure thereby reducing the risk of cardiac issues.

Weight-bearing exercises which include walking and running, but not cycling or swimming, help strengthen bones and combat osteoporosis which helps protect against dangerous fractures. Building muscles through strength training will keep you on your feet and able to enjoy the activities you love.

Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight and improves blood sugar to help prevent diabetes. But even those who are overweight can improve their longevity with exercise.

Can Exercise Extend the Life of a Senior?

The great news is exercise can extend your life at any age. A new study of men in their 60s and 70s showed that those who exercised 30 minutes a day had a 40% lower risk of dying over a 12-year period than men who were glued to the couch.  

In the words of Total Woman Gym and Spa’s very own centenarian: Get moving and keep moving. Every step counts!

Happy 100th Birthday!