NIH study finds leisure-time physical activity extends life expectancy as much as 4.5 years
Leisure-time physical activity is linked to longer life expectancy, even at low levels of activity regardless of one’s body weight.
Akinso: Leisure-time physical activity can possibly extend life expectancy.
Moore: We found that even a very low level of activity equivalent to about 10 minutes of walking per day was associated with a gain of almost two years of life expectancy. And that was regardless of body weight level.
Akinso: Dr. Steven Moore is the author of this NIH study.
Moore: At the very high levels of physical activity and by very high I mean equivalent to about 45 minutes or more per day of walking, we found a gain of about 4 years of life expectancy.
Akinso: Researchers examined data on more than 650,000 adults. These participants, mostly age 40 and older, took part in one of six population-based studies that were designed to evaluate various aspects of cancer risk.
Moore: Physical activity was associated with lower risk of cancer mortality in our study. Which is part of why it extended life expectancy, but it was also associated with lower risk of other causes of mortality as well.
Akinso: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults, ages 18 to 64, engage in regular aerobic physical activity for 2.5 hours at moderate intensity—or 1.25 hours at vigorous intensity—each week.
Moore: So we looked at moderate to vigorous intensity activities in our study And that includes any activity tha's as intense as a brisk walk or more intense. Technically speaking, i's any activity that burn three or more times as many calories as sitting.
Akinso: After accounting for other factors that could possibly affect life expectancy, researchers found that life expectancy was 3.4 years longer for people who reported that they did the recommended level of physical activity.
Moore: So the participants that did the recommended level of physical activity had a gain of about 3.4 years of life expectancy compared to those who did no leisure time physical activity. And by no leisure time physical activity, that means that they may have done their normal what we call baseline activities They may have done some walking to and from their car to get to work but they didn't do any deliberate exercise of physical activity.
Akinso: Dr. Moore says he saw benefit at low levels of activity.
Moore: So the very low levels of physical activity here and what I mean by that, are people who did the equivalent of about 10 minutes of walking pertain in leisure time physical activity. So doing just that amount of leisure time physical activity, it's not very much was associated with about a 20 percent decreased risk of death during the follow-up of our study and in terms of life expectancy that was about almost two years of life gained.
Akinso: Researchers found that the association between physical activity and life expectancy was similar between men and women.
Moore: So it seems like the benefits of physical activity are relatively universal across different subgroups. So the findings were similar. There seem to be a little bit more of a stronger effect in blacks than in whites, but other wise very similar across the different groups.
Akinso: Dr. Moore examined how life expectancy changed with the combination of both activity and obesity.
Moore: So being both inactive and obese was very hazardous for health. There was a loss of about 7.2 years of life expectancy in those who were both inactive and obese compared to someone who is active and normal weight.
Akinso: Physical activity has been shown to help maintain a healthy body weight, maintain healthy bones, muscles and joint, and reduce the risk of certain diseases including some cancers. For more information on this study, visit www.cancer.gov . For NIH Radio, this is Wally Akinso—NIH… Turning Discovery into Health®.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Moore
Topic: Leisure, physical, activity, cancer, life, expectancy, exercise, time