Women Who Do This Daily Are More Likely To Live To 90, Study Finds

mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
Women, Do This Daily To Reach Your 90th Birthday

Image by W2 Photography / Stocksy

We know that exercise is essential for our mental, physical, and emotional health, but it's also been linked to greater longevity for both men and women. The question we're always asking is how much exercise should we be doing daily to get these benefits?

Well, according to new research, the answer to this differs for men and women. The new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that women's height and weight play a more significant factor in their life span than men's, and 60 minutes of exercise daily could help women reach 90 years old.

Researchers analyzed data from the Netherlands Cohort Study and followed more than 120,000 men and women between the ages of 55 and 69, observing the participants' height, weight, and time spent on physical activity until they either died or reached 90 years old.

They found that women who made it to 90 were on average taller and had put on less weight, whereas, for men, there were no connections between body size (height and weight) and life span. Meaning, women's body size could be more indicative of their life expectancy than for men's.

For both men and women, there was a connection between increased physical activity and greater longevity, and there's no surprise here as past research shows a link between physical activity and a longer life span. However, what was less expected was the gender differences in optimal lengths of exercise.

For men, 90 minutes or more of physical activity increased their chances of making it to 90, and those who did an additional 30 minutes of extra physical activity had an added 5 percent increase in their likelihood. For women, while more than 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day increased their chances of reaching 90, they found that those who exercised for 60 minutes a day had the highest likelihood.

"In men, a significantly linear positive dose—response relationship was found between increasing non-occupational physical activity and the chance of reaching longevity. In women, a significantly inverse U-shaped relationship was found between non-occupational physical activity and longevity, with the highest chance of reaching longevity around 60 min of non-occupational physical activity per day," said lead author of the study, Lloyd Brandts, Department of Epidemiology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, GROW-School for Oncology and Developmental Biology. 

While 60-minutes may sound like more movement than you were hoping to do on the daily, it's important to point out that this doesn't necessarily mean you have to do an hour of high-intensity interval training (although HIIT is thought to increase longevity). For example, the people in this study that reached 90 did moderately intense activities such as walking the dog, participating in recreational sports, and working on the house.

So, if you're looking to up your time out of your chair and increase your longevity, consider accumulating these minutes creatively. Scratch the idea that you need to make it to the gym and get moving by walking or biking to work or doing a 12-minute home workout. It doesn't have to be all at once, and it's OK to start slow—adding even a few minutes a day will inspire you to keep going.

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