I’ve long wondered how to live longer.
There’s a happy medium between staying active and exercising so much that you damage your body. Is it healthier to do light yoga everyday and maybe throw in a walk a few days a week, or is it healthier to be an ultra marathoner, pushing yourself to be stronger and faster every day?
What’s the ideal amount of exercise to fend off early mortality? In two new studies, both published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers took a look into what actually extended mortality.
According to the research, those who enjoyed the most health benefits and figured out how to live longer from working out, exercised more vigorously than might normally seem healthy. Vigorous exercise, it turns out, is actually pretty good, not bad for your health. Current federal exercise guidelines, around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, were beneficial, but more is certainly better.
One study followed 661,000 mostly middle-aged adults. Not surprisingly, those that didn’t exercise at all were at the highest risk of disease. Those that abided by government guidelines reduced their risk by 31 percent. But those who exercised a dramatic 450 minutes, or about one hour per day, saw the most benefit. They were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely. Finally, those that over-exercised, completing about 25 hours of exercise per week, or 3.6 hours per day, saw about the same benefits as someone that abided by the government guidelines, according to The New York Times.
In another study, also reported on by The New York Times, researchers came to similar conclusions. This study followed 200,000 Australians and found that those who exercised the most vigorously gained 9 percent more health benefit than those that just met government guidelines. They reduced their risk of premature mortality by 39 percent.
Overall, both studies found that adding a vigorous component to your exercise routine was actually beneficial to extending your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to sign up for an ultra marathon. Walking an hour a day is a great place to start. But additionally, consider adding in a few hours of slightly more vigorous hiking on the weekends. A 2-3 hour hike on the weekends will do a lot to send you in the right direction. Or consider joining a tennis team. Singles tennis is a good workout. In my case, after reading these two studies, I may consider adding 2-3 runs to my workout schedule per week or rather than my at home, often slow yoga practice, I may sign up for a longer, power yoga class 1-2 days per week. This study does make exercise seem slightly drastic, but in a society where we spend so much time sitting at a desk all day, exercise almost has to be a little less moderate and a little more extreme. But that doesn’t mean you have to beat up on your body by over exercising everyday.
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