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Limber up: study finds exercise raises life expectancy

Regular moderate exercise can raise life expectancy even among people who are overweight, a study says.

The analysis, published in PLOS Medicine, pooled self-reported data on physical activities and body mass indexes (BMIs) — a ratio of weight to height — from some 650,000 people aged 40 and older enrolled in one Swedish and five US studies.

“This result may help convince currently inactive people that a modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss,” said a summary of the analysis, headed by Steven Moore of the US National Cancer Institute.

The researchers used the studies to calculate the boost to life expectancy linked to specific levels of physical activity and found that brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years in life expectancy.

“Being active — having a physical activity level at or above the World Health Organisation-recommended minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week — was associated with an overall gain of life expectancy of 3.4 to 4.5 years,” the summary said.

Overall, the researchers concluded that less physical activity was linked with a shorter life expectancy, no matter a person’s body mass index.

“More leisure time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and BMI groups,” the abstract of the analysis concluded.

However, being active and having a normal body mass index (of 18.5 to 24.9) was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to people who are inactive and obese with a body mass index of 35 or above.

On the other hand, being inactive and normal weight was linked to 3.1 fewer years of life, compared to those who are active but class I obese and have a BMI of 30-34.9.

“These findings suggest that participation in leisure time physical activity, even below the recommended level, is associated with a reduced risk of mortality compared to participation in no leisure time physical activity,” the summary said.

“The findings also suggest that physical activity at recommended levels or higher may increase longevity further, and that a lack of leisure time physical activity may markedly reduce life expectancy when combined with obesity.”

Source: AAP

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Bradley Wilson is the Managing Director of the AOK Health Group, established in 1994. The AOK Group is comprised of 3 companies which specialise in the design, manufacture and distribution of health and rehabilitation products, education and services worldwide. Bradley has not just fostered good products but also good business, winning the awards including 2008 Exporter of the Year, 2003 Fastest Growing Hunter Wholesaler and in 2004 Trainer of the Year in Logistics. In 2004, 2006 & 2008 Bradley was elected as a Director of the Hunter Business Chamber by the 1000 member companies of that organisation. He is Senior Vice President, Chair of the Executive, Audit, Business Development and Education Committees. In 2005 fellow board members elected him as a Councillor of NSW Business Chamber (previously Australian Business Ltd) - one of Australia’s largest business lobby groups. Bradley was a Councillor for 3 years. Respected enough to work with other prominent industry professionals throughout the world, he has developed a business model that allows his customers the advantage of the world’s best product and technological information unchallenged by their competitors.