Exercise Decreases the Chances for Premature Death

Regular exercise can prevent almost all causes of premature death. . Long-term studies conducted over the past five decades have undeniably shown that minimal physical activity and low physical fitness are associated with high incidences of overall deaths. Recent data also suggest that low physical activity and fitness are associated with an increased incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) diseases.

A recent study has shown that men who exercise regularly can significantly prolong their lives.1 The study revealed that the risk of premature death is reduced by half by a brisk walk of about 30 minutes for 5–6 days per week.1 Another study published in the May 2003 issue of the Heart journal concluded that men, who regularly perform heavy exercises such as jogging, swimming, climbing stairs and playing tennis, badminton or squash were 47% less likely to die prematurely and 62% less likely to die from heart disease than those who do not.2

The three primary effects of exercise in reducing the risk of premature death are: improvement of cardiovascular fitness, prevention of coronary (heart-related) harmful events and the reduction of excess deaths (mortality). The mortality risk may be reduced by 47% by physical activity, depending on the energy expenditure.3

Physically unfit men have low oxygen uptake and are almost three times more likely to die from any cause, regardless of the general risk factors such as age, smoking and alcohol use. Moderate physical activity not only prevents cardiovascular disease independently of other risk factors, but also prolongs the total life expectancy in both men and women.4


  1. Regular Exercise Can Prevent Premature Death. Available online at: http://www.enews20.com/news_Regular_Exercise_Can_Prevent_Premature_Death_05362.html. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.
  2. Yu S, Yarnell JW, Sweetnam PM, Murray L. Caerphilly study. What Level of Physical Activity Protects Against Premature Cardiovascular Death? The Caerphilly Study. Heart. 2003; 89(5): 502–506.
  3. Birkenhäger WH, de Leeuw PW. Survival of the Fittest’: Effect of Regular Physical Exercise on Health and Life Expectancy (article in Dutch). Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2002; 146(32): 1479–1483.
  4. Franco OH, de Laet C, Peeters A, Jonker J, Mackenbach J, et al. Effects of Physical Activity on Life Expectancy with Cardiovascular Disease. Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165(20): 2355–260.

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