People in the fitness industry understand the benefits of regular exercise such as ‘it improves your health’ and ‘it cuts down the risk of heart disease’, but as people hear these statements more and more often do they become numb to them?
This blog will take a look at the benefits of regular exercise in relation to life expectancy. The concept that these two factors are linked is not new. In fact the earliest records of organised exercise being used for health promotion dates back to circa 2500 BC (Lee, 1996).
Below are the NHS guidelines for regular exercise, according to age bracket:
These guidelines show what the NHS believe you need to do (in terms of fitness) in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout your life.
Life expectancy is arguably the most important long-term benefit of regular exercise. There are literally hundreds of articles and blogs that look at the correlation between regular exercise and life expectancy. Here are a couple examples:
However, there are a couple of scientific studies that we think are particularly interesting.
A study by a team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) examined data on more than 650,000 individuals and found that “people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years.” (Moore et al, 2012).
This study was conducted in the United States, where the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that 18-64 year olds “engage in regular aerobic physical activity for 2.5 hours at moderate intensity – or 1.25 hours at vigorous intensity – each week.”
They go on to explain “moderate and vigorous intensity” as “Moderate activities are those during which a person could talk but not sing. Vigorous activities are those during which a person could say only a few words without stopping for breath.”
Low intensity exercise was also found to produce benefits. For example participants who only did half of the recommended exercise amount, still added 1.8 years to their life.
Rizzuto et al (2012) recently released an article in the British Medical Journal that “measured the differences in survival among adults aged 75 and older based on modifiable factors such as lifestyle behaviours, leisure activities, and social networks. “
The study comprised of over 1,800 individuals who were followed for 18 years (1987-2005). Unfortunately 92% of the participants died during the follow-up period, but to put it into perspective over half of the participants lived for over 90 years.
The results of this study found that “A healthy lifestyle into old age can add five years to women’s lives and six years to men’s.”
So do you need an exercise plan for the rest of your life in order to achieve this? Or is it simply maintaining a sensible level of exercise?
These are just a couple of interesting studies that we have picked out. Have you seen any that you thought were interesting? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.
D. Rizzuto, N. Orsini, C. Qiu, H.-X. Wang, L. Fratiglioni, 2012, Lifestyle, social factors, and survival after age 75: population based study, BMJ,; 345
Moore, S.C., Patel, A.V., Matthews, C.E., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., Park, Y., Katki, A.H., Linet, M.S., Weiderpass, E., Visvanathan, K., Helzlsouer, K.J., Thun, M., Gapstur, S.M., Hartge, P., Lee, I., 2012, Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. PLoS Medicine,; 9 (11)
Lee. I-M., Paffenbarger, R.S., 1996, Do Physical Activity and Physical Fitness Avert Premature Mortality, Healthy Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, Vol 24, Pgs. 135-171,Lippincott-Willians & Wilkins