You Need Less Exercise Than You May Think To Live Longer

Researchers analyzed data on more than 660,000 men and women to find out how much activity we need to extend our lives. They discovered that even a little activity is considerably better than no activity at all.

Most of us struggle to find the motivation to go to the gym, climb on the treadmill, or lace up our running shoes. As we age, that motivation becomes even harder to find. Ideally, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, we should all get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. If we exceed these minimums, our health benefits increase even more.

However, a new research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that all is not lost if our activity level falls short of the guideline goals. In fact, as little as one hour of brisk walking—or 30 minutes of jogging or biking—per week was enough to realize a 20 percent reduction in mortality (during the study period of approximately 14 years) compared to study participants who got no exercise. Study findings suggested that when it comes to extending longevity, the volume of exercise you do is more important than the intensity of your exercise. However, more research must be done to fully understand the relationship, if any, between the intensity of activity and longevity benefits.

Of course, we aren’t encouraging you to exercise less than guidelines recommend. But knowing that less is still something might be just the motivation you need to get moving to help protect your health. Just remember that the more exercise you do, the more your health and longevity will benefit. If you like knowing the facts, here’s the study data about how activity level translated into a reduction in mortality during the study period:

  • One hour of brisk walking, or 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per week decreased risk of death by 20 percent.
  • People who got two and a half to five hours of moderate exercise per week decreased their mortality risk by 31 percent.
  • Those who logged five to seven hours of moderate activity per week decreased their mortality risk by 37 percent.
  • At about seven hours of moderate activity or more, mortality risks leveled off.

When you need a little extra motivation, remember that even an hour of exercise a week is enough to help extend your life. Increase that amount, and realize even more health benefits. Now that is motivation to stick to an active, healthy lifestyle.

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