Free Markets, Free People

How much exercise do I have to do to live longer?

In this era of sedentary living (video games and Blu-ray) and working (office), couch potatoes know they should be doing some exercise, but many are loath to commit to more than necessary to be healthy and extend their lives.  So for those among us who know they should do more but aren’t sure what the “minimum” of “more” should be, a study out of Taiwan may help:

On the basis of the amount of weekly exercise indicated in a self-administered questionnaire, participants were placed into one of five categories of exercise volumes: inactive, or low, medium, high, or very high activity. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) for mortality risks for every group compared with the inactive group, and calculated life expectancy for every group.


Compared with individuals in the inactive group, those in the low-volume activity group, who exercised for an average of 92 min per week (95% CI 71—112) or 15 min a day (SD 1·8), had a 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality (0·86, 0·81—0·91), and had a 3 year longer life expectancy. Every additional 15 min of daily exercise beyond the minimum amount of 15 min a day further reduced all-cause mortality by 4% (95% CI 2·5—7·0) and all-cancer mortality by 1% (0·3—4·5). These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks. Individuals who were inactive had a 17% (HR 1·17, 95% CI 1·10—1·24) increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group.

So take heart, couch potatoes, the minimums are in.  15 minutes is all that’s asked to tack on another 3 years of the good life.  About the same amount of time it takes to fast charge your smart phone.   Or think of it as 8 trips to get beer and potato chips.  You can do it.  Join the low-volume exercise group now and 3 more golden years are yours for the taking.


Twitter: @McQandO

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12 Responses to How much exercise do I have to do to live longer?

  • On the other hand people have a hard time contemplating the difference in living to 85 or 88 when they are young or middle-aged. So saying you’ll live another 3 years if you move your ass some now is hardly good motivation. And mortality is even worse, we all know we are all going to die of something, some fat kid is not going to worry about shaking off his mortal coil via cancer versus heart attack.

    Now, if you could guarantee that it’d get you laid tonight… THAT would see some action. Or, in keeping with the previous post, maybe there needs to be a federal law requiring everyone to exercise 15 mins a day (on pain of the US Marshall patrolling the street shooting your dog).

  • This is certainly good news, and it is even more positive when you consider that exercise does not have to be a gruelling experience to endure. This study lookad at the amount of *moderate exercise* needed which is hardly something insurmountable for couch potatoes.
    Taking a fast walk once a day gives you most of the benefits of excercise, which is something I point out to the patients I see in the clinic. Any exercise that actually gets done is infinitely better than any ambitious plan of running marathons that never materialises. That is only for those who are inton exercise as a lifestyle.The most important step here is to do something rather than nothing, and of course it does not have to be scheduled as exercise. Obviously it is just as healthy if you get these minutes done by riding your bike to your job or whatever else you might do. Actually having some stamina is of course positive even in the short term, as it allows you to walk up a stair for example without getting exhausted.

  • Just make geocaching mandatory.  Problem solved.

    • Dear Food Stamp Participant,
      Your SNAP EBT card has been cached at the following GPS coordinates.
      You are welcome to pick it up at your convenience.
      We suggest sturdy shoes as the hike up the mountain takes approximately one hour.
      Food Stamp Stimulus Program

      • How about a televised “Amazing Race” for food stamps?
        Take 100 food stamp participants who are in decent shape, and then have them “race” to get the 50 food stamps secreted in different locations.
        We sell the TV rights, and the proceeds help pay for food stamps to other people.

      • Harun for the win!

  • Tangential but not totally unrelated:
    Fat studies emerges as an academic field
    You read that right. Link:
    I don’t see tons of education posts here (although it’s possible I’ve missed em), but if you need more evidence that academia, like our culture, is seriously decadent, well there you go.

  • I HATE to exercise, I really really hate it. But I found a way to get in about 20 minutes of pretty good exercise each day. I put on some hand weights and put on an old piece of rock music and dance my ass off.  It is fun and feels good, just as long as no one can see a 53 year old man acting like a dumbass.

  • At 48, my feet are having trouble with jogging. I stopped jogging several weaks ago, and will try again in a few weeks if they feel OK.

    I do have a large pool in my community, and swim regular (this morning I swam half a mile). I also do Brazilian Jui Jitsu (BJJ), worked out at noon for a solid hour. BJJ is great, but it is expensive, and you have to get to the academy to do it, for a scheduled class.