“Men who chalked up more than 90 minutes of physical activity a day were 39 percent more likely to hit the big 9-0 than their peers who exercised fewer than 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise also helped women live longer…” read on…
The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 76 years for men and 81 years for women. While the number of people living to 90 and beyond is expected to quadruple in the next 40 years, fewer Americans might hit that mark: Our lifespans appear to be leveling off, as obesity and physical inactivity take their toll.
Now, a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health has identified just how much daily exercise will give you your best shot at living to the ripe old age of 90 and beyond. And it’s different for men and women.
To find out just how exercise impacts longevity, researchers from the Netherlands investigated data from 7,807 men and women who were born between 1916 and 1917. The participants completed a lifestyle questionnaire when they were between 68 and 70 years old. The researchers followed them until they died or hit their 90th birthday, leaving them with 5,479 nonagenarians to study.
Among men, who generally have shorter lifespans than women, more movement meant more years on the planet. Men who chalked up more than 90 minutes of physical activity a day were 39 percent more likely to hit the big 9-0 than their peers who exercised fewer than 30 minutes a day. Every additional 30 minutes of physical activity the men clocked up was associated with a 5 percent increase in their odds of turning 90.
Daily exercise also helped women live longer, but their sweet spot for daily exercise was around an hour a day. Women who racked up 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day improved their likelihood of living to 90 by 21 percent, with those hitting the high end having the best chance of blowing out a whole bunch of candles for their 90th birthday.
Moving more than 60 minutes a day didn’t have a significant additional impact longevity among women.
Remember, your exercise doesn’t have to be all in one chunk, either. Back in November, when the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines was updated for the first time in 10 years, the experts clarified that there is no minimum amount of exercise that needs to be done at once to add up to your overall total.
While we all love a good workday run, it’s not always possible to sneak out as long as we’d like. Doing some bodyweight exercises in the morning, hitting the stairs at lunch, and taking other so-called “exercise snacks” throughout the day all count toward your daily total—and improve your chances for a healthier, longer life.
*Selene Yeager is a top-selling professional health and fitness writer who lives what she writes as a NASM certified personal trainer, USA Cycling certified coach, pro licensed mountain bike racer, and All-American Ironman triathlete.