A recent Swedish study concludes that exercise is the number-one contributor to longevity. A close second was maintaining a rich social network.
Debora Rizzuto and her research colleagues from the Karolinska Institute followed 1,810 men and women age 75 and older for 18 years. During that period, 91.8% of the participants died.
The study found that persons older than 75 who were physically active and joined in social activities lived an average 5.4 years longer than less active persons. Even at age 85, a physically and socially active lifestyle was a contributing factor to an extra 4 years of longevity. The most important single factor in longevity of the study participants was physical activity, which by itself was linked to an extra two or more years of life.
“It doesn’t take a lot to make a major difference,” says Miriam E Nelson, PhD, director of Tufts’ John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention. “If you look at the health of people along the whole spectrum, from very sedentary to athletes, the fitness graph isn’t a straight line.
“It turns out that the biggest jump comes at the very bottom of the range. The less active you are now, the more benefit you get from adding even a small amount of exercise to your life.”
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, December, 2012 Study published in British Medical Journal, August 30, 2012