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Daily exercise can increase life expectancy

August 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Researchers say they've figured out one of the secrets to living longer: exercise.

It was already known that for maximum health benefits, you need to do some physical activity for 30 minutes a day. But to live longer? That's a little easier to manage.

The study in Taiwan, released on Tuesday, shows that just 15 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce the risk of dying by 14 percent. Internal medicine expert Dr. Borna Solomon says on average, it will increase your lifespan by three years.

"It does confirm with concrete science there is an actual benefit to working out. It does improve your lifespan. It does improve quality of life," Solomon said. The study showed the numbers increased with every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise, but the benefits maxed after a 100 minutes per day. Both men and women benefited equally from the minimum activity.

Doctors participating in the study say they hope this new information will show people that even the smallest amount of exercise is better than doing nothing at all.

Researchers say you could save time by exercising more intensely for a shorter period of time. This had the same effect as less vigorous exercise carried out for longer. But whatever you do, experts say you have to enjoy it.

There were some limitations. Answers were self-reported. The study, though large, was observational, which means the health benefits may not be entirely due to exercise. But researchers said they took into account other factors that might affect health such as smoking and drinking. And outside scientists said the findings are in line with other studies.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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