Here’s How Fitness Affects Your Lifespan: Are You Exercising for Weight Loss, Longer Life, or a Better Quality Life?

Exercise for fitness is one of the most important things you have to do on a daily basis to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While exercising can be a difficult habit to get into, your body will thank you for it. We are meant to be active, which is why those who don’t get exercise regularly may develop health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. So, learn how fitness affects your lifespan and get motivated to discover ways to get activity into your life so that you can strive to live a longer, happier life. There are plenty of studies that show that even regular moderate activity prolongs many peoples’ lives in studies of populations. Exercise also improves the quality of life. There’s no guarantee any individual life will be lengthened, but the odds are in your favor.

Prolong Your Life

Unfortunately, many people in the United States are overweight or obese. While people are living longer due to modern medicine or by having the knowledge to reduce the risk factors that lead to disease or accidents, exercise still greatly affects your lifespan even if you’re overweight.

However, exercise might not be the best method for reducing body weight. Dieting may be the best way to lose weight. Some believe exercise isn’t that effective by itself for weight loss because you still have to burn more calories than you take in; and many people have trouble achieving a calorie deficit in the equation. Some people have to try a variety of intensities or durations of exercise programs, so that fat (instead of stored carbohydrate) is actually used for activity and energy. When stored fat is tapped for energy involved in activity, the stored fat will be reduced.

The problem is that the body usually has carbohydrates stored (as glycogen in muscles and the liver) which are ready to supply energy, too. A person’s body during exercise can tend to use the energy from the stored carbohydrates instead of the stored fat. To overcome this complexity, it can be best to hire a trainer and/or sports nutritionist to help with advice on when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, how long to work out, what type of exercise — along with the recommended intensity level for exercise. With some people that have a stubborn weight problem, there’s a certain amount of complexity to getting a body to use relatively more fat for energy rather than stored carbohydrates for energy during exercise. This goes back to the opening statement: Diet might be more effective for reducing body weight.

Fortunately, exercising for the benefit of feeling better, getting stronger, gaining functional improvements is a lot simpler than exercising for losing weight.

There’s proof that fitness through proper exercise and activity is beneficial for prolonging your lifespan and prolong quality in the life that you have. Plus, the good news about exercise activity is you don’t necessarily have to do that much exercise in a day. According to a British Journal of Sports Medicine study, exercising for 30 minutes a day can have a huge impact on your life.

What You Can Do

As you get older, it becomes harder to get fit. The more you procrastinate, the harder it will be to acquire a routine. That’s why we recommend starting small and gradually building up your strength. As the weather gets nice, take some time and go for a walk. Then, once you get comfortable with walking for a long period of time, you can attempt jogging or just do short jogs for the length of about a half block.

While running is one of the most effective ways to get fit, there are risks of hurting you ankles, knees and back. And there is the risk of heart attack or Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) if you have an underlying, unknown cardiac condition that either a doctor missed, or wasn’t detected because a person didn’t go to a doctor in the first place.

You could also consider lifting weights because muscle building improves the quality of your life by giving you strength to do more things, and provides stability to your joints and your gait. Increased muscle mass also raises your metabolism, which can help you reach your weight-loss goals. Ironically, sometimes people gain some weight and size from increased muscle mass, even though they lose some fat mass. Many fitness clients complain about pants getting tighter or weight going up at the beginning of a recommended exercise program.

Weightlifting for beginners is only recommended for two to three days a week. Weight lifting can always be started at a much lower intensity than running or jogging. And there can be many more benefits to more parts of the body (more muscles and joints).

Be aware of how fitness affects your lifespan, and can shape your life in a positive way. Developing a routine that is beneficial is a very personal, specific practice. People who have the most success with fitness enjoy the process of learning what is beneficial specifically for their bodies. People that don’t help themselves to enjoy learning the process of exercise are less likely to benefit from exercise or even stick with it.

If you want to try to live a longer, healthier, and happier life through exercise and fitness; it is going to require some time and effort. Committing to an active lifestyle has many benefits — many benefits which you will enjoy immediately, and others later, while realizing a longer, functional life span.

You might look at this way …

Exercise and fitness for weight loss? Possible, but not certain.

Exercise and fitness for longer life? Probably, but not certain.

Exercise and fitness for better quality life? Certain.

Steven C. Moore , Alpa V. Patel, Charles E. Matthews, Amy Berrington de Gonzalez, Yikyung Park, Hormuzd A. Katki, Martha S. Linet, Elisabete Weiderpass, Kala Visvanathan, Kathy J. Helzlsouer, Michael Thun, Susan M. Gapstur, Patricia Hartge, I-Min Lee Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis PLOS | Medicine November 6, 2012

Ian Janssen, PhD, Valerie Carson, PhD, I-Min Lee, ScD, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, PhD, and Steven N. Blair, PED Years of Life Gained Due to Leisure-Time Physical Activity in the United States Am J Prev Med. 2013 Jan; 44(1): 23–29.