How much exercise is enough to live longer?

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This article originally appeared in www.nytimes.com.

We all know that exercising is good for us but have you ever wondered exactly how much exercise you need to do to live a longer life?  New studies, both of which were published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, may give us some indication of what we should be aiming for.  Details of the studies were published in The New York Times – you can read the full article here.  In summary:

The current broad guidelines from governmental and health organizations call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to build and maintain health and fitness.

The first study found that, unsurprisingly, those in the study group who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.  While those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

The other study come to a similar conclusion and found that meeting the exercise guidelines substantially reduced the risk of early death, even if someone’s exercise was moderate, such as walking.  But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality.

So there you have it – to increase your chances of living longer, exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.  Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week seems obtainable, right?