A new study suggests that physically active people are likely to live several years longer than inactive people. But Hispanics, for reasons that aren’t clear, didn’t get any gain from being more active.
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.
Hispanics appeared to gain nothing in terms of life span from physical activity, although that could be because the surveys weren’t properly designed to ask questions appropriate to their culture, study author Ian Janssen said.
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.
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.