Study finds exercise extends lifespan, but sitting around is deadly

It's no secret that exercising may increase your life, but questions remain over exactly what type of exercise — as well as the duration and intensity — is needed to get those benefits. The answer is surprising, at least according to a new study that found any level of exercise may slash early death risk. On the flip side, however, the study also warns that sitting for several hours a day is significantly linked to mortality.

The research originates from Norway, where researchers analyzed existing observational studies on sedentary lifestyles, physical activity, and death. Data on more than 36,000 adults over the age of 40 were included in the analysis; follow-up on the participants revealed that around 2,100 had died during the study period.

The researchers accounted for various factors that may have influenced the deaths and ultimately found that any level of physical activity — something as simple as walking at a slow pace or vacuuming — was linked to 'substantially lower risk of death.'

The study provides examples of what was considered exercise, including everything from walking to jogging and mowing the lawn to cooking and washing dishes. It's perhaps no surprise that the researchers found lesser risk in individuals who got more exercise than others — up to around five hours of light activity or only 24 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

However, the study also has a warning for individuals who spend too much time sitting around. Researchers found that being sedentary for 9.5 hours or more daily resulted in a 'statistically significant' death risk increase. The results indicate that office workers, for example, may benefit greatly from taking regular light activity breaks throughout the workday.