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For a Longer Life, Any Exercise Is Good Exercise: Study

HealthDay News
by -- Steven Reinberg
Updated: Jul 31st 2020

new article illustration

FRIDAY, July 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Want to live longer? Take the stairs, stretch or toss a volleyball around, a new study suggests.

Those activities were among several tied to lower rates of early death in an Arizona State University study of nearly 27,000 U.S. adults between 18 and 84 years of age.

Researchers wondered which of the more socially oriented exercises -- such as team sports -- contribute to longevity. They asked participants in 1998 which types of activity they engaged in, then watched for causes of death through 2015.

While they found that any form exercise helps, stretching and volleyball were uniquely tied to a lower risk of early death. Fitness activities such as walking, cycling and aerobics were also beneficial. Only an association was seen between activities and death rates.

The findings suggest some kinds of exercise have special benefits when it comes to reducing the risk of early dying, but most have no effect on longevity, researchers said.

"If you're doing any exercise, that's better than if you're doing nothing," said lead author Connor Sheehan, an assistant professor in ASU's T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

"I wouldn't go out of your way to adjust your lifestyle to the results of this study, because it might be harder for you to stretch than to play volleyball, for instance," he said in a university news release.

And the team sport that was shown to have a negative effect on longevity will probably catch you by surprise: It's baseball. Researchers suspect that owes to the culture of chewing tobacco that's linked with the sport.

Football, a contact sport associated with development of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was not associated with earlier death.

Researchers said the benefits of exercise were consistent across different social groups.

The takeaway: "I think what's best is to just keep doing what you can consistently do, what you consistently enjoy doing," Sheehan said.

The findings were published in the July issue of the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

More information

There's more about exercise and longevity at AARP.