Study Reveals Connection Between Physical Activity and Longevivity
A new study led by researchers from the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute manages to quantify the years of life gained through different levels of physical activity. The study was conducted on various individuals, with different BMIs and lifestyles.
The study answers the question “How good is exercise for you?”. Precedent studies only show that there is a connection between physical activity and mortality. However, this is the first study to reveal the link between life expectancy and the level of physical activity. This new research collaboration manages to quantify the amount of life years gained through physical activity. The paper is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
According to Dr I-Min Lee, the senior author of the study, the study shows that 75 minutes of brisk walking every week can increase the life expectancy over 40 by almost 2 years. “Physical activity above this minimal level was associated with additional gains in longevity”, noted Dr Lee. In comparison, 450 minutes of brisk walking every week increases the life expectancy over 40 by almost 5 years. Researchers also studied the differences that appear between subjects of different BMI values. Data for the study was gathered from 6 prospective cohort studies, amassing over 650 thousand patients. Patients were followed over an average of 10 years. More than 80 thousand deaths were also analyzed during the study. Due to the large number of patients, researchers were able to analyze and estimate the increase in life expectancy based on each patients’ BMI and weekly physical activity.
According to the researchers, their findings show that the increase in life expectancy was seen in all patients, varying through different BMIs and different levels of physical activity. Patients who were doing physical activity comparable to 75 minutes of brisk walking per week were seen to have a decreased risk of mortality by almost 20%. The equivalent of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week was shown to increase life expectancy by almost 3.5 years. This amount of weekly physical activity is currently recommended by the Government.
The benefits of weekly physical activity were seen in men and women, no matter the race. Notably, these benefits were also observed in normal, overweight and obese patients. However, the subjects which showed the highest benefits were those that were both physically active and had a normal weight. An increase in life expectancy of more than 7 years was seen in normal weight subjects which had an equivalent physical activity to 150 minutes of brisk walking per week.
“Our findings reinforce prevailing public health messages promoting both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight”, concluded Dr Steven C. Moore, the lead author of this study. According to the research team, their findings might convince inactive people to start being physically active, even if they wouldn’t start various weight control programs.
Study abstract here.