People who regularly exercise, may be go for a brisk walk for a while, live longer than those who don’t do any leisure time exercise, in spite of being overweight, a study published in the PLOS Medicine journal states.
According to the researchers [led by Steven Moore from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, USA], “This finding may help convince currently inactive persons that a modest physical activity program is ”worth it” for health benefits, even if it may not result in weight control.”
The researchers from Sweden and the United States collated information on leisure time physical activities and BMI [Body Mass Index] from more than 650,000 people aged over 40 years in a combined analysis of 6 long-term studies [one from Sweden and five from the US].
They found that even leisure time physical activity at a level equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week improved life expectancy by around 1.8 years compared to those who did not exercise. However, leisure time physical activity at the level recommended by the World Health Organization [a minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week] was associated with an average of 3.4 to 4.5 years longer life expectancy than no exercise. More leisure time physical activity continued to be associated with longer life expectancy when the subgroups of men and women, blacks and whites, and high school and college graduates were analyzed separately.
Overall, the authors found that less physical activity was associated with shorter life expectancy at all BMI levels, but being active and having a normal weight [BMI 18.5 – 24.9] was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to being inactive and obese class II [BMI of 35 or higher]. However, being inactive and normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared to being active but obese class I[BMI 30.9].
The authors say: “adding even low amounts of leisure time physical activity to one’s daily routine—such as 75 min of walking per week—may increase longevity.”