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How Much Exercise Can Help Lower Mortality Risk? A New Study Suggests Simple Changes

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If you’re wondering whether there is a magic formula you can follow to help you live longer, science may have a surprisingly simple suggestion for you: double the currently-recommended range of either moderate or vigorous physical activity each week to lower your long-term risk of mortality.  

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What this means is that while current Canadian guidelines for adults 18 or older recommend 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise, you may want to consider doubling this amount to experience this increase in health benefits. (South of the border, this recommendation is slightly higher for adults, suggesting at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or alternately, spending less time doing more intense physical exercise – about 75 to 150 minutes a week.)

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Regular exercise reduces terminal illness and disease

The study, published by the American Heart Association, looked at mortality data, medical records and survey responses of more than 100,000 adults, finding that 150 to 600 minutes a week of moderate or vigorous exercise significantly lowered subjects’ risk of mortality. 

In fact, the research concludes that such exercise sees over 20 per cent reduction in terminal disease and illness for those who exercised regularly – depending on the physical activity.

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Bringing past findings into question

Interestingly, where prior research has found that too much high-intensity exercise (such as marathons, triathlons, etc.) can damage the heart leading to negative cardiovascular events, the latest study finds no such link to health problems. However, it also found that going beyond the recommended increased limit also did not lead to better health outcomes either. 

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The takeaway

While some exercise is better than none, to have a significant impact on your long-term health and longevity, you may want to increase the amount of time you’re active per week, and potentially the intensity of how you spend that time. 


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