Increase Your Life by 4.5 Years with an Active Lifestyle

Author: Angela Fleming   Date Posted:10 April 2018 

Want to extend your life by 4.5 years?

Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining good overall health and wellbeing. A study undertaken in 2012 concluded that participating in leisure-time physical activity can increase life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years.


The study

The authors of the study examined the association of leisure time physical activity with mortality, in a large pooled cohort analysis with a 10 year follow up. The study included 6 cohorts with a total of 638,855 individuals, both men and women, aged 40 and over. 

Leisure time physical activities are defined as activities that include sports, exercising and recreational walking, with moderate to vigorous intensity. Moderate activities are those that require some effort, but allow a conversation to be held. Examples include brisk walking, gentle swimming, social tennis etc. Vigorous activities cause you to breathe harder or puff or pant. Activities include aerobics, jogging and some competitive sports. Essential tasks of daily living, such as housework, walking within the context of a job or transportation are excluded as a form of exercise.  



The results show that a high level of moderate to vigorous leisure time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of mortality during follow-up and a longer life expectancy after age 40. The outcome was similar for both men and women. Those with co-morbidities who participated in weekly exercise improved life expectancy as did obese individuals. The results according to the duration of exercise is as follows;

  • 75 minutes, (equivalent to) brisk walking per week conferred a 1.8year gain in life expectancy, compared with no activity.
  • 150-299 minutes, (equivalent to) brisk walking per week conferred a 3.4year gain in life expectancy, compared with no activity.
  • 300-449 minutes, (equivalent to) brisk walking per week conferred a 4.2year gain in life expectancy, compared with no activity.
  • 450+ minutes, (equivalent to) brisk walking per week conferred a 4.5year gain in life expectancy, compared with no activity.

The findings of the study stipulate that even low amounts of leisure time physical activity can prolong one’s life. The authors are hopeful the outcome of the study may prove attractive to those who are currently living a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise can not only prolong your life, it can also support current health conditions and improve overall health. 


The current stats on physical activity in Australia

Physical activity has declined dramatically over the past few decades. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, during 2011-2013, the overall level of physical activity in adults was low. Older people did less exercise than younger people, with 56.9% of people aged 75 years and over being sedentary and 25.8% having low levels of exercise.


How much exercise is best for me?

According to the World Health Organisation, healthy adults aged 18-64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week OR at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity OR an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity per week. It is recommended that aerobic activity should be undertaken in no less than 10 minute bouts and muscle strengthening and conditioning should be done 2 or more days per week, involving the major muscle groups. See our article 5 sports that are easy to participate in without being an expert.

Individuals that live a sedentary lifestyle and are wanting to implement exercise into a weekly routine should aim to start small and slowly increase duration, frequency and intensity over time. See our article Gentle Ways to Exercise. 

*Always seek advice from your medical practitioner before starting a new exercise regime. Seek the advice or your healthcare practitioner or exercise physiologist in regards to exercise according to current health status.


Reference list

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011-12, Viewed 12 March 2018, <>

Brown, W, Baumen, AE, Bull, FC, Burton 2012, Development of Evidence-based Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults (18-64 years), Viewed 12 March, <>

Moore, SC, Patel, AV, Matthews, CE, Berrington de Gonzalez, A, Park, Y, Katki, HA, Linet, MS, Weiderpass, E, Visvanathan, K, Helzsouer, KJ, Thun, M, Gapstur, SM, Hartge, P, Lee, IM 2012, ‘Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis’, PLOS Medicine, Vol. 9, Issue 11, Viewed 9 March 2018, <>

World Health Organisation 2011, Global recommendations on physical activity for health 18-64 years old, viewed 13 march 2018, <>


Written by Angela Fleming
Angela Fleming

Angela (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who strongly believes in living a healthy and happy lifestyle. Angela believes being active, taking time out for yourself on a regular basis and consuming a balanced healthy diet (with the odd sneaky treat included now and then) is the fundamental key to keeping our minds and bodies in good health.

Angela loves to pass on her knowledge of healthy and happy living to her two young children, who love to experiment in the kitchen with her and train alongside her in Karate.

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