How Much Exercise Do You Need for a Longer Life?

July 9, 2015   16 Comments

Some people have no problem with exercise. They get up, run, walk, go to the gym, and move seemingly without effort.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

And then there are the rest of us.

I have shared many times how my favorite position is when my butt is firmly planted on my couch, on a chair, or (if I am lucky) in a hammock. I can sit for hours at a time with a book – my only motion picking up and putting down my cup of coffee. Aaaah.

Researchers have been studying how much exercise we need to combat disease and give us longevity. Why? Well, our doctors need to make educated recommendations instead of saying something like, “you need to extract your rear from the couch every once in a while”.

There is no doubt that exercise increases longevity. A Harvard study that included over 600,000 people showed that those who did no exercise were at the greatest risk for an early death.

Ok, I am listening! I will get some exercise.

If you exercise for about 20 minutes per day, you get a 31% less chance of dying in a 14 year period. Woohoo!!! I believe I can find 2 ½ hours a week for exercise.

But, how can I live the longest? The NYT article states:

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.

450 Minutes!! Do I look like I have an hour per day for exercise? Oh man.

If my doctor told me to exercise for an hour per day, I think I might punch her. Or maybe feel like punching her (sorry, Kate!).

I guess this is a bad news, good news situation. If you are already hitting an hour of moderate walking per day - you are in the best shape for longevity but most of us don't have that kind of time (bad news). The good news is that 20 minutes of exercise per day gives a significant increase in our longevity.

My conclusion is that I am glad I have a dog that gets me to walk in below zero weather (even if it is only for 20 super cold minutes).

How much exercise do you get? Do you worry about it?

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I usually walk 4 miles a day and I try to do 17,000 or more steps a day. I don't think it is necessarily doing a whole hour of exercise a day as just being more active. Parking at the end of the parking lot, walking around the whole store and all the aisle, taking stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Just little things that make you more active will help along with the 20-30 minutes of exercise a day.

on July 9, 2015

Throughout my day of "running" from one office to the next for documents, walking everywhere I need to go (no access to a car and frankly don't really need one), and racing up and down stairs at work and home, I would guess I get in about 20 minutes or so of exercise. I don't count the time doing all that ^_^

on July 9, 2015

I'm wondering (maybe a topic for another day?) about the amount of exercise needed not necessarily to EXTEND life, but rather to improve QUALITY of life on a daily basis and reduce risk for chronic diseases that can make life miserable.

on July 9, 2015

I wonder if rigorous activity for 20 minutes would have the same longevity benefits as the hour of walking.

on July 9, 2015

I have a variety of activities I like.

Everyone has an hour per day but like you said twenty minutes will do.

You never regret doing your activity but you always beat yourself up when you don't do it!

Just start small and work yourself up to longer periods. Exercising gives you energy!

on July 9, 2015

With you on the preference for "small motor" instead of "large motor" activities, but I have become more aware of my body's need for more exercise, so tai chi twice a week and aqua at least once, plus walks when the weather is pleasant. I've also started adding stretch breaks, using my chirping bird clock as the prompt. It is heartening that 20 minutes a day gives the biggest improvement, making the additional time a bonus option, and a valuable one, since exercise seems to help many problems, from diabetes to heart to depression. Hugs!

on July 9, 2015

Exercise is very good for longevity and the proof is in my parents. They are 85 and 82 and they go to the fitness center four times a week. They have more stamina and good health than most people twenty years younger that don't exercise. They are amazing. So proud, now if I could just follow their example.

on July 9, 2015

Snack Girl- Along similar lines: it would be great to hear your take on what Will Power Guru Kelly MacGonigal has to say about motivating ourselves into actually doing healthy things.

on July 9, 2015

I have requested a sit/stand desk at work (and got a doctor's note to back it up). I wonder if standing for part of the day instead of having my butt stuck to my chair will count toward any of that 60 min of exercise. If nothing else, it is at least burning some more calories and better for my back to switch positions every so often! I can't wait to get it!

on July 9, 2015

The I don't have time excuse is so tired. People need to admit that they just don't want to exercise and would prefer watching TV or surfing the web or some other mundane activity that adds nothing to your longevity. Exercise is so beneficial and it does not have to be a chore. Just move more.

on July 9, 2015

I used to dread exercising and now I wouldn't do without it. It gives me more energy than any caffeine crazy drink and elevates my mood better than any pill I could take. Never thought I'd feel like this, but I'm a real convert!

on July 9, 2015

I always wear a pedometer and aim for 15,000 steps during good weather - generally getting between 13,000 and 17,000 a day. Some of that is just daily stuff and some is purposeful walking - 30-60 minutes, depending on how many more steps I want to get in.

on July 9, 2015

I walk our dog for 20 minutes per day then swim at least once per week for 60-90 minutes. I had to have an aortic stainless steel heart valve put in when I was 41, now just about 64 yrs with no problems. My heart surgeon said to exercise 20 min/day and I'd live to 80 yrs old. We'll see, going good so far.

on July 9, 2015

I have a pedometer and I found out I feel best when I walk over 10,000 steps per day. Moving is medicine for me. I walk 3 miles to work 2 days/week I lift weights for 1 hour 2 days per week and on the weekends I run 4-8 miles one day and bike 25 miles or swim a mile

I guess I really love to move because it's an antidepressant for me

on July 9, 2015

Try Spin 8, only 20 min and burns your fat in the gym or on your own,, google it and watch Dr. Mercola burn on a recumbent bike.

on July 12, 2015

I saw this (9 minutes) recently and I loved the way that Dr. Mike framed it -- "can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 and a half hours?" :)

on July 15, 2015

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