Life expectancy is defined as the statistically 'expected number of years of life remaining at a given age'. Physical activity is believed to enhance life expectancy.
Steven Moore and colleagues, from USA, studied the effect of leisure time physical activity on life expectancy. They also enumerated the number of years acquired by being energetic and physically active at different levels of life among people with different body mass indices (BMI).
AdvertisementI-Min Lee, MD, the Associate Epidemiologist in the Department of Preventive Medicine at BWH and senior author on this study said, "We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one's daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity,"
Prof. Lee further added, "Physical activity above this minimal level was associated with additional gains in longevity. For example, walking briskly for at least 450 minutes a week was associated with a gain of 4.5 years. Further, physical activity was associated with greater longevity among persons in all BMI groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese."
Since the size of the sample was quite large, it was possible to determine the number of years gained at various levels of BMI and physical activity.
The study findings suggested that increased physical activity was closely linked with increase in life expectancy. The scientists found that by involving themselves in leisure time physical activity, people enhanced their life expectancy by 4.5 years.
It was also seen that volunteers who were active and had normal weight gained 7.2 years of life as compared with their non-active counterparts.
The data was gathered from six prospective cohort studies in the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium, consisting of 654,827 volunteers aged between 21 to 90 years.
Dr. Steven Moore from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland and the lead researcher of this study said, "Our findings reinforce prevailing public health messages promoting both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight."
According to scientists moderate activities are those activities during which a person can talk but cannot sing while vigorous activities are the activities can utter only few words without taking a short breath.
Various other factors such as socioeconomic status, nutritional status, etc. affect life expectancy. The researchers observed that the life expectancy of those who followed a recommended level of physical exercise was increased by 3.4 years while those who followed twice the recommended exercise level increased their life expectancy by 4.2 years.
The scientist said that even the low level of physical activity also resulted in enhancing the life expectancy by 1.8 years.
Dr. Moore mentioned, "Our findings highlight the important contribution that leisure-time physical activity in adulthood can make to longevity."
He added, "Regular exercise extended the lives in every group that we examined in our study—normal weight, overweight, or obese."
The researchers found that, the relation between life expectancy and physical activity was almost identical in both women and men; but blacks gained more number of years as compared to whites.
Another important point highlighted by the scientists was that people with a prior history of heart ailment had stronger relationship between physical activity and life expectancy, as compared to those people who did not have any such history.
The study concluded that increased level of leisure physical activity was responsible for longer expectancy of life in different BMI groups.
Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis; Steven Moore et al; PLOS Medicine 2012