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Even small increases in daily exercise are tied to longevity
- By Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
How much daily exercise would it take to extend your life? It might be as little as another 10 minutes a day, according to a study published online Jan. 24, 2022, by JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers analyzed health information from more than 4,800 adults, ages 40 to 85, who wore fitness trackers for a week. The scientists followed the participants for another 10 years to see who died during that period. They then calculated death rates based on activity level and created models to estimate what would happen if participants added 10, 20, or 30 more minutes to their daily exercise routines. In each model, extra physical activity brought a longevity boost. Increasing activity by 10 minutes a day was associated with a 7% drop in the number of deaths per year; adding 20 minutes per day equated to a 13% drop; and adding 30 minutes produced a 17% decrease. The scientists say the results translate to preventing 110,000 deaths per year in the United States, on the low end, and 272,000 on the high end. The study doesn’t prove that exercising more would save all those lives. But there’s already a large amount of solid evidence linking regular exercise with good health and longevity. So consider adding a little time to your daily walk. Try starting with an extra five minutes per day for a week, another five the next week, and build up gradually. You’ll feel better the more you exercise. Also, you just might extend your life.
Image: © Amilciar Gualdron/Getty Images
About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Starting to Exercise
What can improve your mood, boost your ability to fend off infection, and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer? The answer is regular exercise. It may seem too good to be true, but it's not. Hundreds of studies demonstrate that exercise helps you feel better and live longer. Starting to Exercise answers many important questions about physical activity. It will also help guide you through starting and maintaining an exercise program that suits your abilities and lifestyle.
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