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Exercise Can Add 3 Years to Life Expectancy

The above headline is from a November 15, 2005 InteliHealth article reporting on 2 recent studies that show that on average people who regularly exercise can add up to three years to their lives. The study, performed at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, noted that something as simple as brisk walking a half-hour a day, can positively affect the heart and can have a profound effect on life expectancy.

Dr. Oscar Franco, co-author of one of the studies noted, "Three years of extra life: It's a very clear message that makes it easy to grasp what might be the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle." The studies showed that the increase in life expectancy was a direct result of the positive effect on the heart.

In one of the studies researchers grouped 4,121 people into three levels of physical activity: low, medium and high. The results showed that the life expectancy at age 50 for the medium activity group was 1.5 years longer than for the low activity group. However, the high activity group lived an average of 3.5 years longer.

The second study, conducted at the University of Florida, was conducted on a "real world" basis tracking people in their daily activities and the amount of exercise they performed. The study noted that people usually exercised considerably less than they actually intended, but still received the health benefits from the exercise they did do. Lead investigator Michael Perri commented, "If you aim for exercising every day, you'll probably do four or five days. If you aim for three or four days, you're likely to get maybe two days done."

Dr. Martha Gulati, a cardiologist and fitness researcher at Northwestern University concluded, "We need to know how to prescribe this and how to implement this. If we don't, we're never going to get to the point where we do prevention. We're always going to be treating chronic disease."