Exercise boosts life expectancy, study finds

November 13, 2012

Bethesda, MD – People who engage in regular physical activity, even at low levels, have a longer life expectancy regardless of their weight, according to a new study from the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers examined data on more than 650,000 adults, most of whom were at least 40 years old. They found people who met federal activity guidelines – 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity exercise each week – lived 3.4 years longer than people who did not exercise. People who reported twice that amount of exercise added 4.2 years to their life, and people who only exercised half as much as recommended gained 1.8 years, according to an NIH press release.

The correlation between life expectancy and activity held true for people whether they were normal weight, overweight or obese. It also was stronger for people with a history of cancer or heart disease, researchers found.

The study was published online Nov. 6 in PLOS Medicine.