Regular exercise could reduce the risk of developing around two dozen physical and mental health conditions-including some cancers and dementia, says a new study.
The research said that apart from not smoking, being physically active is the most powerful lifestyle choice any individual can make to improve their health.
Leslie Alford from the University of East Anglia reviewed 40 papers covering the latest international research published between 2006 and 2010.
"The literature reviewed shows that how long people live and how healthy they are depends on a complex mix of factors, including their lifestyle, where they live and even luck. Individuals have an element of control over some of these factors, including obesity, diet, smoking and physical activity," said Alfred.
"Although the focus of my study was on men's health, the messages on physical activity are relevant to both sexes and all age groups," he added.
He further explained, "Physical inactivity results in widespread pathophysiological changes to our bodies. It appears that our bodies have evolved to function optimally on a certain level of physically activity that many of us simply do not achieve in our modern, sedentary lifestyles."
"What is clear from the research is that men and women of all ages should be encouraged to be more physically active for the sake of their long-term health," concluded Alfred.
The research was published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice (IIJP).