People who undertake no moderate exercise suffer about as much as the heavily overweight, or smokers, when it comes to diminished life expectancy – though there is always the question of direction of causation in these correlations. Past studies have suggested that even a little regular exercise improves matters considerably. But how little? The human dose-response curve for exercise is being mapped out, slowly, through large epidemiological studies. The open access paper reports on data that suggests even very low levels of exercise correlate with a surprisingly large difference in life expectancy in comparison to sedentary individuals. This isn’t an excuse to slack off if you happen to be somewhere closer to the recommended level of physical activity, however: there is plenty of evidence to suggest that optimal exercise benefits require twice that amount or more.
Strong evidence shows that physical activity has beneficial effects on well-being, health, and longevity in older ages. The survival effect of physical exercise has received support by a large study of more than 40,000 athletes, which shows that the Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMR) for athletes compared to the standard population was 33% lower.