The correlation between exercise and a longer lifespan is one that’s been investigated extensively in the past.
However, much previous exploration of the topic has either combined the results for men and women or focussed solely on men, rather than assessing women and men separately at the same time.
Reseachers from the Department of Epidemiology at the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands explored how the body size and daily physical activity of women and men can affect how long they’re expected to live.
For their research, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the scientists analysed data from the Netherlands Cohort Study (NLCS), which accumulated information from more than 120,000 men and women in 1986.
Out of the 120,000 participants, 4,161 women and 3,646 men aged between 68 and 70 provided information in 1986 regarding how much physical activity they do every day, how much they weigh, how tall they are and how much they weighed when they were 20 years old.
Physical activities included activities such as taking the dog for a walk, gardening, DIY, sports and cycling to work.
The women and men were separated into categories – those who do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day, those who do between 30 and 60 minutes, those who do between 60 and 90 minutes and those who do 90 minutes or more.
They were then monitored either until they reached the age of 90 or until they passed away, depending on which came first.
Of the 7,807 people who were monitored, 944 of the women and 433 of the men lived past 90.
The researchers found that women who do between 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day are 21 per cent more likely to reach the age of 90 then those who do 30 minutes or less.
They also stated that an hour is the optimum amount of time for women to spend doing daily physical activity.
Men, on the other hand, who do 90 minutes of physical activity a day are 39 per cent more likely to reach the age of 90 than those who do less than half an hour.
The study also concluded that every additional half an hour of physical activity per day increases men’s chances of turning 90 by five per cent.
The researchers acknowledge the study is solely observational, as the information was provided by the participants of the NLCS study as opposed to being gathered by the scientists themselves.
Other factors may have also played a role in the longevity of the individuals, such as whether they smoke or drink.
However, the team believe the results of the study are reliable due to the large cohort of people in a similar age group.