Benefits of Exercise for Longevity

One of the key and immediate benefits from exercise is a strong improvement in mood and general wellbeing. In the medium-term body shape will start to change and adherents will begin to notice a loss in body fat. While these benefits are significant, the major benefits are witnessed many years later in terms of reduced mortality.

New research published in the British Medical Journal analysed the exercise habits of almost 14,600 participants aged 40 to 79 over an eight year period to see how their exercise levels changed. They then compared this data to death records to see what exercise characteristics were linked to greater survival.


According to the World Health Organisation guidelines on physical activity, adults aged between 18 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity over the course of a week. Alternatively, adults should perform at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity over a week.

Participants who were inactive at the start of this study but subsequently increased their activity to meet the recommended 150 minutes every week were 24 percent less likely to die over the course of the follow-up versus those who remained inactive. This group were also 29 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 11 percent less likely to die from cancer.

Interestingly, participants who were already active but became even more active showed the greatest health benefits. Those who increased their exercise to two to three times the WHO recommended guidelines of 150 minutes were 42% less likely to die over the follow-up

What are the benefits of cardiovascular exercise?

  • Improving cardiovascular function
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Improving immune function
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Decreasing stress and improving mood
  • Improving blood sugar control
  • Decreasing body and visceral (organ) fat

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