Do you want to know the secret to living longer? It’s not the fountain of youth, nor will you need to find Pandora's box to unearth this secret. It’s a lot simpler than you think! Data from years and years of research and studies show that exercise or physical activity improves life expectancy. But before you start building an exercise routine, learn more about the relationship between exercise and longevity and how you can begin a life-changing journey.
Physical Activity Recommendations
A good start is to gauge how much physical activity you are currently doing. This can help you visualise the steps and changes needed to achieve your fitness goals in the following months or years.
The question is, are you exercising enough? The World Health Organization outlined its physical activity recommendations per age group. For adults aged 18 to 64 years old, here’s the list of what you need to know:
- Do 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week
- Or do 75 to 150 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise weekly
- Combine moderate and high-intensity exercises
- Do muscle-strengthening workouts at least twice a week
The WHO also said that doing more than the recommended minutes offer extra health benefits.
What Do the Studies Show?
We’ve been taught about the many benefits of exercise, but few are willing to make the change. If you still need some convincing, check out these studies:
1. On Long-Term Leisure Time Physical Activity
The American Heart Association conducted a study that ran for 30 years consisting of 116,221 adult participants. The participants were asked to self-report their leisure-time physical activities from time to time.
The results of the study showed:
- Participants who were able to meet the 150 to 299 minutes a week of physical activity were associated with lower mortality – 19% to 25% less.
- Those who did more than 150-299 minutes per week showed 2 to 4% lower mortality.
- Participants who went above and beyond and did 300-599 minutes of physical activity per week showed 3 to 13% lower mortality.
2. On Life Expectancy and Mortality Risk Factors
It is believed that there is a 30 to 35% less risk in physically active individuals of dying due to the major mortality risk factors (cardiovascular heart disease, hypertension, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and dyslipidemia). A study was done on athletes to see the relationship between exercise and longevity.
After 11 studies, scientists concluded that physical activity does add years to one’s life. The conservative estimate is 2 to 4 years, but they did say it could be greater due to how exercise can keep the major mortality risk factors at bay.
3. On Cardiorespiratory Fitness
To further explore the connection between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and long-term mortality, a retrospective study was done. But first, let’s talk about CRF briefly.
CRF measures how efficiently the lungs and heart can pump oxygen and blood throughout the body right after long workout sessions. If you have a high CRF, that means you’re fit!
In this study, the researchers look at the CRF of 122,000 individuals through a treadmill test. The average age of the participants is 53, but the pool comprises people ranging from 18 to 80 years old.
The results showed that individuals who were fit and had high CRF were associated with living longer. Researchers also found that high CRF means a higher survival rate, especially in older people and people with hypertension.
4. On Exercise and Diet Together
While most studies only highlight physical activity as the key to living longer, a more recent study shows that exercise may not be enough alone.
In this study, researchers assessed 346,627 individuals over 11 years. The physical activity sessions of the participants were tracked per week, as well as the intensity of their sessions. On top of that, the researchers also tracked their diet.
Within 11 years, 13,689 participants died. Of that number, 2,650 died of a heart problem, while 4,522 died of adiposity-related cancer.
The researchers concluded that, based on the data collected, participants who regularly exercised had a lower mortality risk. However, participants who exercised regularly and followed a good diet had the lowest risk.
Additionally, one of the essential takeaways from this study is that offsetting one for the other doesn’t work. For instance, if you think you can exercise more to offset a poor diet, you better think twice. The researchers are adamant in saying that to minimise mortality risk; you must do both regularly and religiously.
How Can You Get Started?
If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle for years, or you’re someone who only does the bare minimum and wants to change that, it’s never too late! Do not feel pressure to go from level 1 to level 10 in a week. Remember, your limits are low right now, and you have to work on getting that limit higher over time.
Here are some tips on how you can increase your physical activity and make every minute count:
- Plan a routine
Just as it is vital to prepare the body, you must prepare your mind first. Changing your lifestyle needs strong mental power. You need to say goodbye to old habits. You have to be intentional and want to put in the effort and hard work.
It must be a conscious decision to create a routine that will work for you. Consider the best times or workout plans you can accommodate. Plan for rewards to motivate you. This also means planning ahead and factoring in your schedule. Think of other factors that may affect your commitment and work around them.
You can achieve greater success when your mind is ready to work with your body.
- Start slow
There’s no shame in setting the bar low in the beginning. Pushing your body more than you can handle can be counterproductive. It’s not sustainable and motivating, too.
You can start with 1 - 3 hours of physical activity weekly. The following week, add another hour and continue to increase as the weeks go by. A study says that adding 11 minutes of exercise can already increase life expectancy.
Small goals are easier to achieve, and, more importantly, these little wins can fuel you to do better!
What exercises can you do? You can always start with an activity that you’re comfortable with. It could be brisk walking, slow jogging, bodyweight exercises, or even dancing. It’s really up to you! As long as your heart rate is pumping and you’re sweating, that works!
- Get a boost from nutritional supplements
It can be a steep climb at first, so why not get some trusted help? Nutritional supplements can give you the boost you need to power through your workouts and help your body to always be in tip-top form.
Xendurance’s Daily Foundation Bundle can take you where you want to go! The sacred trifecta features the Essential, Immune Boost, and Omega+ D3, all of which are formulated to nurture healthy aging and longevity by reducing oxidative stress and maintaining overall health.
- Expect failure before success
This life-changing journey will not be easy, and you will face hurdles and obstacles along the way. You can find yourself looking for more motivation or reverting to your old ways. But as the old saying goes, it’s not about how you fall but how you get up!
Failure is your friend. Please don’t take it as a form of weakness. Expect to lose some battles on your way to success. When you set goals, you have to be realistic. Identify areas where you can fail but also think ahead about how you can overcome failures. This is what will make your wins so much sweeter!
Note: Before making any drastic changes to your daily routine and diet, consult a medical professional first.
So, What’s Your Move?
Knowing what you know now, ask yourself, what move will you make? Are you going to be content with your lifestyle now? Or will you push your limits and enjoy a healthier and longer life? The choice is yours.