What are the scientific benefits of exercise?

The majority of people want to live as long as possible and stay healthy as long as possible.
So, it’s a good question to ask about the scientific benefits of exercise for longevity and overall health benefits of physical fitness.

In this post we’ll find out what are the scientific benefits of exercise and how much we should exercise to get maximum benefits for our health.

Physical activity and all-cause mortality

Meta-analyses of 22 studies with 977925 participants shows that physical activity reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. The largest benefit was found from moving from no activity to low levels of activity, but even at high levels of activity benefits accrue from additional activity [1].

The study found that 2.5 h/week (equivalent to 30 min daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) compared with no activity was associated with a reduction in mortality risk of 19%, while 7 h/week of moderate activity compared with no activity reduced the mortality risk by 24% [1].

Brisk walking can be an example of moderate physical activity. Also, it can include housework, gardening, and stair climbing as part of daily life.
Running is an example of vigorous physical activity.

It looks like the biggest health benefits of physical activity we get from doing 300 min/week of vigorous exercise [1].

Meta-analysis of 80 studies with 1 338 143 participants shows that higher levels of total and domain-specific physical activity were associated with reduced all-cause mortality [2].

Physical activity and cardiovascular disease

Meta-analysis of 29 studies shows that high versus low levels of total physical activity, leisure-time activity, vigorous activity, walking and bicycling combined, occupational activity and cardiorespiratory fitness were each associated with a statistically significant decrease in the risk of heart failure [3].

Meta-analysis of 18 studies shows that moderately active individuals had a 20% lower risk and highly active individuals had a 27% lower risk of stroke incidence or mortality than the low-active individuals [4].

Physical activity and mental health

A systematic review of fifteen studies comprising 191 130 participants suggests significant mental health benefits from being physically active, even at levels below the public health recommendations [5].

Accumulating an activity volume equivalent to 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week was associated with 25% lower risk of depression, and at half that dose, risk was 18% lower compared with no activity [5].

Physical activity and cancer

Meta-analysis of 20 studies provided evidence for a 20% decreased risk of all cancer mortality among the general population when comparing highest versus lowest physical activity (PA), and 15% when comparing PA versus non/occasional PA, respectively [6].

Also, there are some other studies showing that physical activity decreases the risk of cancer.
For example, meta-analysis of 38 studies says that physical activity is significantly associated with a decrease in the risk of breast cancer [7].


So, what are the scientific benefits of exercise? Well, to name a few exercise may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.

The best results for our health from physical activity are seen at doing 300 min/week of vigorous exercise.

P.S. If you want to find out how science-based nutrition and diet can prevent and treat the most common diseases, improve your overall health and help you live longer then you can click here to learn more.

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