Follow exercise guidelines and you'll live longer, study says

  • According to a recent study, exercise can definitely increase one's lifespan
  • Data indicate that only 16% of participants in the study did the recommended amount of exercise
  • The risk of death from any cause was 40% lower among those who did both sufficient muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities


Getting the recommended amount of exercise could cut your risk of early death, a new study indicates.

US government guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. They also suggest adults do moderate or greater intensity muscle-strengthening exercise at least two days a week.

That effort pays off in longevity, according to the study published on 1 July in BMJ.

"Our findings support that the physical activity levels recommended in the 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans provide important survival benefits," researcher Bo Xi and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.

Benefits higher for vigorous exercise

"Additionally, in accordance with the guidelines, more physical activity than the minimum recommendation could provide greater health benefits," Xi, a professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Shandong University in China, and co-authors said.

To assess the benefits of these guidelines, the researchers analysed data from nearly 480 000 US adults, ages 18 to 85, who were followed for an average of nearly nine years.

During that time, only 16% of the participants fully met the recommended activity levels, and nearly 60 000 died.

Compared to those who didn't meet the recommended activity levels, the risk of death from any cause was 11% lower among those who engaged in sufficient muscle-strengthening exercise. It was 29% lower among those who did sufficient aerobic exercise, and 40% lower among those who did both sufficient muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities.

The researchers also found that adults who did sufficient aerobic exercise had a lower risk of death from these specific causes – heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory tract diseases, accidents and injuries, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. Those who did sufficient strengthening exercises had a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory tract disease.

Survival benefits were slightly higher for vigorous exercise than for light to moderate activity.

The study doesn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Still, inactivity is a global public health issue. It's estimated that inactivity was responsible for 6 to 10% of major chronic non-communicable diseases and 9% of early deaths worldwide in 2008.

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