Getting plenty of heart-pounding exercise is one of the keys to living a long and healthy life, but it’s hard to pin down just how much exercise you need to add years to your life.
For example: A 2015 study of people who hit the current U.S. exercise guidelines—150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts, per week—found that adhering to that basic level of activity will give you about a 30% less chance of dying early. And yet another study showed that exercising too much can lead to early death.
Thankfully, a new study from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, has gotten closer to a concrete answer. The researchers looked at over 10,000 people who completed exercise stress tests for the Henry Ford Exercise Testing project from 1991 to 2009. They found that for people who aren’t fitness junkies—people who aren’t hitting the gym consistently, in other words—simply getting active and pushing to “the next level of fitness” is good enough to help you live longer.
After almost 9 years of the ongoing study, 9.5% of the men and 7.4% of the women who participated in the project didn’t survive. However, the men who improved from a base level of “low fitness” to an “intermediate” (or even “high”) level were 44% less likely to have died during the project period than those lazy guys who never moved on from couch potato status. The women who became fitter during that time had a 37% better chance of living longer.
So if you’re currently a sit-around slug who’d like to increase your lifespan by upping your level of fitness, why not try our beginning weight-lifting routine to get fitter? And for you loyal readers who are already pretty good about working out, take your game to a higher level and hit an advanced workout—and handily outlive all those schmucks stuck to the couch eating chips.