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Regular Exercise May Add Years to Life, Study Finds
Date:12/11/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that physically active people are likely to live several years longer than inactive people.

The findings don't say anything about whether those extra years are good ones, and the limits of the research don't prove that activity may guarantee longer life spans.

Still, the Canadian study adds more evidence that being active pays dividends in the long run.

The biggest effect came in black women. Those who reported getting at least two and a half hours of moderate activity a week were anticipated to live nearly six extra years. And white men who were active at age 20 were expected to live an extra two and a half years compared to their couch-potato counterparts. But Hispanics, for reasons that aren't clear, didn't get any gain from being more active.

Study author Ian Janssen, an associate professor who studies physical activity at Queen's University in Ontario, said the findings offer evidence that could convince the inactive to get up and start moving.

For example, "one of the reasons [people] tell you that they don't engage in physical activity is that it takes up so much of their time," Janssen said. "We were able to show that if black women engage in an hour of vigorous activity like jogging or swimming, that would extend their lives by 11 hours" -- or 11 hours for every hour spent exercising, he added.

It's no secret that activity and exercise are good for you since they reduce the risk of certain types of disease. It has been less clear what it does to life spans, especially in regard to people of different ages and ethnicities.

In the new study, researchers examined American health statistics from 1990 to 2006, including death rates and surveys about physical activity, and extrapolated them. They reported their findings online Dec. 11 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.'/>"/>

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