How much life can you earn if you exercise?


Illustration: Angelica Alzona (Gizmodo)

There may be a physiologist who thinks otherwise, but in general, 100% of people who have studied believe that exercising is good for your health. However, for those of us who have adapted to feeling physically ill all the time, "good for you" may not be enough incentive. More attractive, perhaps, is the idea of ​​having a longer life.

Do not lift weights is extremely fun, as it is not to ride a bike and not participate in amateur football leagues, but is it worth it not to do those things if you are going to die before, for example, someone doing squats? Before answering, it would be useful to know how much life expectancy you can earn if you exercise on a regular basis.


Benjamin Levine

Professor of internal medicine and holder of a chair in sports science at UT Southwestern Medical Center, as well as founder and director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM)

If you prevent death by, say, a cardiovascular disease, you could still die of cancer. You can ride a bicycle regularly and be very fit, but still you could be run over by a car. There is a variety of competitive risks in life. Depending on you, the age you have and what your risk factors are, a variety of different causes can end your life.

We know that exercise reduces the risks of multiple things: especially cardiovascular diseases (up to 50%, depending on the circumstances). That number will vary depending on your health, or if you have an underlying cardiovascular disease or if you had a heart attack in the past. But there is no doubt that, in virtually all studies, the answer is a substantial reduction in cardiovascular death. It is difficult to determine how many more months or years you could live, but the most important thing is that you will be fit and strong, and it will help you to live better.

When I talk to people about exercise, I tell them to include it in their personal hygiene, in the same way that you brush your teeth, change your underwear and try to eat well. My recipe for life is to do some kind of exercise 4-5 days a week. I recommend that everyone do at least one long session once a week for at least an hour and that it's fun: it could be a dance class, it could be tennis, it could be a walk with your partner, it could be A long bike ride through the park. It does not matter what it is, but it has to be relatively long and something that you enjoy. I also recommend that you do at least one day a week of something that is of high intensity. There is a variety of different types of interval training. And then, two to three days a week, the kind of moderate-intensity exercise that most people think of when they think about exercising: getting on a bicycle or an elliptical, going jogging or brisk walking, etc. Something that leaves you with enough energy to speak, but not to sing.

Larry Tucker

Professor of Exercise Sciences, Brigham Young University

No one can predict how long a person will live. However, as a group, athletes live significantly longer than sedentary adults. While there are many different methods that can be used to estimate the additional years athletes can get from physical activity, one strategy is to measure their telomeres. Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes. The length of telomeres provides a good indication of a person's biological age.

In a study I did, a total of 5823 American adults were studied. Men and women who performed high levels of physical activity each week had telomeres much longer than their counterparts. In fact, the size of telomeres showed that adults with high levels of weekly activity had almost 9 years less of biological aging compared to those who were sedentary.

In the research, several dozen different physical activities were evaluated, so there are many things you can do to increase your physical condition. Those who performed vigorous activity of 35 to 45 minutes or more per day, five days per week, had the longest telomeres. People who exercised at moderate intensity had to exercise much longer, one hour or more per session. While high levels of physical activity and longer telomeres do not guarantee a longer life, they definitely increase the likelihood.

Angelique Brellenthin

Director of the CardioRACE Project and Postdoctoral Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Iowa State University who has studied running as a key medicine for longevity

After taking into account age, sex, smoking, obesity and other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, we found in a study that we realized that runners live on average three years longer than non-runners, similar to what other studies found. In addition, we estimate that for each one hour that you dedicate to running, you gain an additional 7 hours of life. Beyond running, other studies have found that people live on average 3 to 4 more years if they are regularly active compared to inactive. However, most of this evidence comes from people who claim to do traditional aerobic activities such as walking, biking or swimming. We know very little about the potential increase in longevity you can get from participating in other popular forms of exercise, such as resistance training. There is increasing evidence that strength and muscle function are as important as aerobic fitness to age well. However, no matter what, you only get a long-term benefit from long-term exercise, which means that you should select an activity that you enjoy and that your body feels good about. There are endless ways to be active, but it is often the simplest activities, such as walking, that are most sustainable for life.

Hirofumi Tanaka

Professor of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin

Regular physical activity offers many benefits for most organs and tissues that we have in our body. It also acts to reduce premature deaths from common cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes. Even if you experience similar types of heart attacks, the damage you experience tends to be much less if you exercise regularly. But there is no evidence to show that regular physical activity prolongs life expectancy.