Fit, Yet Fat: A Little Exercise May Add Years to Life

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Individuals with mental illness live, on average, 25 years less than the average person. Preventable health problems, including obesity, account for some of this. Middle-aged people who walk briskly for as little as 75 minutes per week may live 1.8 years longer, even if they are overweight. If they spend more time walking, running, swimming, cycling, or sweating in aerobics class, they may boost their life expectancy by 3.4 to 4.5 years.

Low physical activity was associated with a lower life expectancy and greater risk for death, which grew by BMI grouping. At the most extreme, a sedentary lifestyle and high BMI edged close to the mortality risk of smoking. Specifically, a normal-weight person who was inactive during leisure time lived an average of 4.7 fewer years compared with a normal-weight person who was active during leisure time. Meanwhile, inactivity was associated with a loss of 7.2 years from the lives of people with high BMI (35 kg/m2 or higher) compared with normal-weight people meeting recommended physical activity levels. In comparison, long-term cigarette smoking reduces life expectancy by 10 years.

by Diedtra Henderson

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