How Effective is Exercise in Prolonging Life?

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Exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and has been proven to increase your lifespan. However, some people wonder if the extra longevity gained is just equal to the amount of time you exercise. If this is the case, then why even bother exercising if there is no discernible net gain on one’s life span? Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, set out to find the answer.

In a study published in the Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, Dr. Lee and his colleagues reanalyzed data from medical and fitness tests conducted at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. They have used the same data on a previous study that suggested prolonged life spans in as little as five minutes of daily running.

In revisiting the data for their new study, and applying statistical computations, the researchers were able to determine that running actually returns more time to a person’s life span than it consumes. In fact, the study suggests that an hour of running statistically prolongs a person’s life by seven hours. However, Dr. Lee says that the gains appear to be capped at around three extra years.

Is prolonged running counterproductive in terms of longevity? Not according to Dr. Lee’s findings. While longevity gains plateaued at about 4 hours of weekly running, they did not decline during longer runs.

Other kinds of exercise like walking and cycling also benefitted life expectency, but not to the same degree as running.