You don't have to start exercising when you're young to reap the benefits when you're older. Men in their 60s and 70s experience significant longevity benefits if they exercise for about 30 minutes per day, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study took advantage of data collected in the Oslo Study, a Norwegian study of 15,000 men born between 1923 and 1932. In 2000, the researchers began to monitor 6,000 of the surviving study participants and classified them as either sedentary, light, moderate or vigorous exercisers, following them over a period of 12 years. Over this 12-year period, 2,154 of the participants died.
The findings indicate that the effect of even small amounts of exercise is surprisingly robust. Only an hour per week of vigorous exercise was enough to reduce participants' risk of dying of any cause during the study period by between 23 and 37 percent. Moreover, men who exercised moderately to vigorously on most days lived an average of five years longer than those who were classified as sedentary. Even light exercise, if done for 30 minutes per day, was associated with an increase in the participants' lifespans.
"Even at the age of 73 years, physical activity is associated highly with [life span] between groups of sedentary and active persons," the researchers wrote.
However, researchers cautioned that the data may have been skewed by the fact that the group of men in the Oslo Study who made it to the year 2000 in the first place may have been healthier than those who died before that year.
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