National Institutes of Health (December 3, 2012): A Little Exercise Might Lengthen Life

Publication Date: 
Mon, 12/03/2012

A little physical activity can go a long way toward extending your life, regardless of your weight, a new study found. People who walked briskly or did other activity at only half the recommended amount gained nearly 2 years in life expectancy compared to inactive people. Those who exercised even more gained up to 4.5 years of life.

Researchers have long known that physical activity can enhance health. Exercise can help with weight control; strengthen bones, muscles and joints; and reduce the risk for heart disease and other disorders. Despite these known benefits, most Americans are sitting or inactive for more than half of each day, and about one-third of U.S. adutls are obese.

Earlier studies identified a relationship between longevity and both physical activity and body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height). But it was unclear how different levels of activity and BMI might affect life expectancy.

To take a closer look, an international team of scientists led by Dr. Steven C. Moore at NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) analyzed data on more than 650,000 adults who were followed for about 10 years.