In a study conducted in the United States on nearly 3,000 people aged 50 to 79, researchers have established a strong link between exercise and longevity. Move more, sit less, is the main message from the new study, which found that even among people who exercise, those who spend less time sitting and more time moving around tend to live longer.
Researchers said their study showed that people who walk around, wash dishes, sweep the floor and were otherwise active tended to live longer than the people who were sitting at a desk.
The study participants wore accelerometers - ultra-sensitive activity trackers that record when the body moves - for 7 days. The researchers then compared this activity data with deaths recorded over the next 8 years to find that the least active were five times more likely to die than the most active. In their analysis, the team took account of chronic conditions or other factors that might influence the risk of death, including diagnosed illnesses, smoking, age and gender.
The researchers say they did not discover any particular threshold of physical activity above which the link with longer life kicks in. However, they did learn that just an extra 10 minutes of light activity per day makes a difference, and that replacing just 30 minutes of sitting time with light or moderate-to-vigorous activity produces even better results.
When it comes to physical activity, more is better than less, and anything is better than nothing, say the researchers.