Exercise has countless health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular and other chronic diseases and prolonging life. But sometimes, squeezing workouts into an already hectic schedule can be challenging. Fortunately, new studies investigating life expectancy and exercise have found that exercising for just 30 minutes a day is optimal to improve longevity.
30 Minutes A Day is Optimal
The first study used data from 8,500 participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. They found that participants who exercised between 2.6 and 4.5 hours a week were 40 percent less likely to have died than those who exercised less than 2.6 hours a week, or about 30 minutes a day. Interestingly, those who exercised in excess of 4.5 hours each week were no more likely to live longer, and those who worked out more than 10 hours each week were more likely to have died than those who exercised more moderately. 1
7,000 is the Magic Number
In the second study, researchers followed 2,000 participants in their 40s. The subjects took regular medical tests and wore activity trackers for a week. Ten years later, they evaluated health outcomes and found that 72 of the subjects had died at a relatively young age compared to the national average. Participants who took fewer steps were more likely to die early, but most surprising was the number of steps required to boost longevity. While the U.S. CDC recommends healthy adults walk 10,000 steps (or approximately 5 miles) per day, the study indicated that 7,000 was the magic number. Subjects who walked a minimum of 7,000 steps each day lowered their risk of early death, and taking more than 10,000 steps did not improve participants longevity outcomes.2
The biggest takeaway from the research The ideal amount of daily exercise for prolonging your life is about 30 minutes or 7,000 steps a day. While exercising less may be correlated with a shorter lifespan, exercising more may not provide any additional benefits.
1 Schnohr, P., MD, DMSc, O’Keefe, J. MD, Lavie, C.J., MD, et. al. (2021). U-Shaped Association Between Duration of Sports Activities and Mortality: Copenhagen City Heart Study. Mayo Clinic Proceedings,
2 Paluch AE, Gabriel KP, Fulton JE, et al. Steps per Day and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged Adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. JAMA Netw Open.2021;4(9):e2124516. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24516
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