We’ve all heard that the sedentary lifestyle is bad for our health, but can exercise actually make us live longer? Experts seem to think so.
Obesity can lead to numerous health problems including heart disease, certain cancers such as bowel and breast cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. There are many factors which can contribute to obesity, such as hereditary conditions and poor diet, but a study conducted a few years ago by Harvard School of Public Health found that when people who were overweight or obese exercised for 150 minutes a week they lived an average of 2.7 to 3.4 years longer than people who were obese and didn’t exercise.
The same study also found that when people of an average weight exercised for 150 minutes a week lived for an average of 4.7 years longer than people of the same weight who did not exercise. This study suggests that exercise itself can make you live longer, although other factors like a healthy diet and lifestyle will also help. Another study run by the National Cancer Institute found that people who are physically active live around 4.5 years longer than people who are mostly sedentary.
So why does exercise make people live longer? One reason is that aerobic exercise such as running, swimming or even walking exercises the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease. Exercise also helps you lose weight and there are a lot of health risks (see above) associated with being obese. Weight lifting exercises can reduce the risk of back pain, arthritis and osteoporosis. Some exercises, such as running or walking outside, can also expose the person to fresh air and vitamin D, which carries their own health benefits. Lastly, exercise releases endorphins in your body which make you feel happier and helps reduce stress. Stress can increase the risk of tons of health problems including heart disease and depression, so reducing stress through exercise can fight away a lot of problems.
There is clearly a link between exercise and living a longer, happier life, but the exercise itself doesn’t need to be particularly strenuous or time consuming. 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of more intense aerobic exercise can help you live longer and improve your health, so instead of watching another episode on Netflix why not put on your trainers and get moving.