About the Buzz: Physical Activity Can Extend Life Expectancy?

TheBUZZ Physical activity can extend life expectancy?

Leisure-time physical activity can extend life expectancy, regardless of body weight, by as much as 4.5 years.


According to the CDC, leisure-time physical activity is defined as engaging in light-moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a minimum of five (5) times per week or engaging in vigorous physical activity for at least 20 minutes a minimum of three (3) times per week.1 Examples of leisure-time activities include team sports such as soccer and baseball, swimming, horseback riding, walking, jogging, and tennis.

No matter what the activity, being physically active not only burns calories but it also helps to maintain joint, muscular and bone health as well as enhance psychological well-being. Physical activity paired with a balanced diet improves overall health, helps to maintain weight, and reduces your risk of certain diseases. A recent study is now saying that leisure-time physical activity may also increase life expectancy.


A team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute has found that leisure-time physical activity can extend life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years. The study included 650,000 adults 40 years of age and older. What they found was that regardless of body weight, life expectancy increased as physical activity increased. Even those with low levels of activity (about half the recommended amount) had a life expectancy increase of 1.8 years. Subjects who received the recommended amount saw an increase of 3.4 years where subjects who received double the recommended amount of physical activity saw an increase of 4.2 years. (The recommended amount of physical activity for those 18-64 years old by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was used which is aerobic activity for 2.5 hours at moderate intensity or 1.25 hours at vigorous intensity per week.) Another finding was that inactive, obese adults had a life expectancy 5 to 7 years shorter than that of moderately active, normal weight adults.²


Keep it simple! Exercise and eat a balanced diet. Here’s how …

    • Get at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous physical activity per week.
    • Strength train at least 2 times per week.
    • Join the gym. Fear you’re not motivated enough? Ask a buddy to join with you or try a few group classes. Most gyms offer a whole host of classes included with your membership from zumba to kickboxing, pilates and yoga!
    • Start a walking or jogging club in your neighborhood, at work or at school.

Balance the Diet

Be sure to check out our healthy meal planning guide for more weekly menu ideas and other ways to maintain a balanced diet.


¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leisure-Time Physical Activity. National Center for Health Statistics. N.p., Mar. 2011. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. View Article

² Moore, Stephen C. “Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis.” PLOS Medicine (2012): n. pag. PLOS Medicine. 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. View Article

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