PLoS Medicine .
order to determine the number of years of life gained from leisure-time
physical activity in adulthood, which translates directly to an
increase in life expectancy, researchers examined data on more than
650,000 adults. These people, mostly age 40 and older, took part in one
of six population-based studies that were designed to evaluate various
aspects of cancer risk.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of NIH, 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. Moderate activities are those during which a
person could talk but not sing. Vigorous activities are those during
which a person could say only a few words without stopping for breath.
accounting for other factors that could affect life expectancy, such as
socioeconomic status, the researchers found that life expectancy was
3.4 years longer for people who reported they got the recommend level of
physical activity. People who reported leisure-time physical activity
at twice the recommended level gained 4.2 years of life. In general,
more physical activity corresponded to longer life expectancy.