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Wed Nov 26 10:49:23 SAST 2014

Exercise can extend your life, even if you're overweight: study

AFP Relaxnews | 07 November, 2012 10:17

Yet more evidence to inspire you to get moving, new research shows that people who do regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, live longer than those who lounge in front of the television or computer, regardless of weight.

"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," says lead researcher Steven Moore from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, in the US.

Researchers from Sweden and the US analyzed data on more than 650,000 people over 40 years old involved in six long-term studies. Findings revealed that even exercise at a level equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week was associated with an average increase in life expectancy of 1.8 years compared to those who did not exercise.

Even more exercise equaled a longer life expectancy, a minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week was linked with an average of 3.4 to 4.5 years longer life expectancy than those who didn't exercise.

Being active and having a normal weight (body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to 24.9) was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to inactive and extremely obese (a BMI of 35 or higher) subjects. However, being inactive and of normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared to being active but moderately obese, a BMI of 30-34.9.

The research is published November 6 in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS Medicine.

A smaller, separate study from Karolinska Institutet (also involved in the new study) and Stockholm University found that keeping physically fit can add up to six years to a person's lifespan, making physical exercise the strongest predictor of survival. Results were published in the British Medical Journal August 30.

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