How Much Does Exercise Increase Life Expectancy?
Studies have shown that regular physical activity significantly improves your lifespan. However, there is a sweet spot. The benefits of exercise are greatest when you achieve a certain amount of activity, typically 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day or thirty to forty-five minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Going over this threshold might improve your odds of living a long and healthy life, but it may actually work against you.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University and the National Cancer Institute published a study that found that increased exercise duration was associated with improved lifespan. In fact, people who exercised for at least two hours a day added 7.2 years to their life expectancy. However, people with a BMI of more than 35 had the most significant lifespan gains. This is because BMI plays a major role in determining a person’s lifespan.
Researchers concluded that exercise can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study showed that people who exercised regularly cut their risk of a stroke by half. In contrast, people who became physically unfit later in life doubled their risk of a stroke. This result is consistent with other studies. However, more research is needed to confirm this finding. For now, it is safe to say that exercise does increase life expectancy.
The relative risk of death is 20% to 35% lower for physically active individuals than for those who are inactive. The association between physical activity and longevity is significant. Physical inactivity accounts for up to 10% of the deaths in Europe. Studies show that a person who engages in active physical activity during leisure time can increase their life by three to four years. However, the number of studies on the subject is too small to make a statistical analysis.