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In this report, pooled data about people’s exercise habits from six large, ongoing health surveys, with more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged, were evaluated, and these results may help you make a plan for your activity levels in the new year.
The adults studied were organized by a broad range of weekly exercise time, from those who did not exercise at all to those who worked out moderately for 25 hours per week or more, and then compared these results to 14 years’ worth of death records for the group.
The researchers found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.
But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendation of walking 150 minutes per week, but doing something active, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.
Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.
The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.
Where do you stand, or walk, in the “exercise for longevity” discussion? One of the most helpful ways I’ve found to track my personal activity level is to wear a Fitbit every day. This simple tool, which is one of many such tracking devices available, helps me to consistently walk 12,000 steps each day. Since I purchased my Fitbit in September, 2015, I have walked over 250 miles! It is surprising how much better I feel on the days that include plenty of exercise, which of course, makes living a long life seem much more appealing.
What is your game plan for exercise and longevity? I often tell my clients that now is the very best time to take care of their 90-year-old self! I try to do this in several ways, and one of them is to set a timer when I sit to write. This timer reminds me to stand up, move around, take a walk, and stretch my legs…which, is one of the best ways to keep up with my goal of walking 12,000 steps every day. The alarm is ringing and off I go!