Obtaining the generally recommended amount of regular physical activity - 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise - extends life span by up to several years for some people, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers mined several large national databases of health information. They sorted people into three categories: inactive, somewhat active, and active. Then they calculated how long people lived by sex and racial or ethnic groups.
Men who were active at age 20 could expect to gain up to 2.4 years over a lifetime. This modest longevity boost was observed in non-Hispanic white men and in black men, but not in Hispanic men.
Although the study focuses on lifespan, it reflects the impact of even moderate exercise on rates of chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, which account for the most deaths.