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Does Exercise Extend Our Lifespan? Yep. Here’s How Much.

The nearest grocery store to our house is 1.2 miles. Twice a week, I walk to the store when needing just a few small items. At a brisk stroll, I get to my destination in just under 20 minutes. Round trip is around 40 minutes.

Not only do my walking errands save gas money, it might have just added nearly 2 years to my life.

Researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute calculated what the increase in lifespan for middle aged people would be based on the amount of physical activity they do per week.

How to Live Longer By the Numbers

For those of us over 40 who want to live a long and healthy life, this study breaks down in black and white the impact exercise can have on our life expectancy.

Even a little bit of physical activity can make a huge difference for those who don’t currently exercise. Take a look:

  • 75 minutes per week (10 minutes a day): Add 1.8 years to your life
  • 150 to 299 minutes per week (20 to 40 minutes per day): Add 3.4 years
  • 450 minutes per week (70 minutes per day): Add 4.5 years

And you can add extra bonus years (7.2) if you exercise 150 to 299 minutes per week and maintain your healthy normal weight.

The Real Payoff Beyond the Numbers

Data like this is hard to ignore. The life quality payoff for including physical activity into our daily routine is huge.

  • What can we accomplish in our lives by adding several more years to it? Write a book? Travel? Volunteer to make a difference in our communities?
  • How much more time can we spend with loved ones? Watch as our children excel in their lives? Play with future grandchildren?
  • What new discoveries will be made during those extra years in our lives? New medical treatments? Men and women landing on Mars? It would be great to be a witness to all that.

Nearing my 50th birthday, I think about those things. And taking charge of my health has become more of a priority. That’s why I take studies like these very seriously. They help me construct a roadmap for a healthy life that my future senior self will appreciate.

Over the past year, I’ve switched my diet to include highly nutritious foods. And I’m incorporating physical activity into my overall lifestyle. These include simple measures like parking out in the boondocks at the grocery store, taking a quick walk during my lunch hour.

And I’ve made it a point to schedule vigorous exercise several times a week. I get up early and ride an exercise bike for 30 minutes. On beautiful weekend mornings, I get up early and ride my bike for 10 to 20 miles.

It’s motivating to know that each moment I spend moving my body increases my endurance for a long, exciting and healthy life.

Join our conversation on Facebook.com/HealthyMidlife and share how you stay active.

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