How Exercise Can Help You Live a Longer, Better Life

Would you like to add more years to your life and more life to your years? While everyone wants to live longer, no one wants to spend their later years in poor health and under constant care.

The good news is studies have found that exercise can help you live a longer, more satisfying life.  

Today, we’re going to look at some of these studies. We’ll also provide you with some suggestions on how you can incorporate a regular exercise program in your life, , even if you think you already have too much to do.

What studies tell us about exercise and longevity

A decades-long project that started in the 1970’s involved data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study. An article published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported that participants who exercised regularly were 40% less likely to have passed away during their study.

The subject’s exercise programs included a variety of activities such as cycling, tennis, jogging, swimming, handball, weightlifting, soccer, etc.

Focusing on 8,697 Danes who had joined in the 1990s, the study noted their activity habits then and checked their names against death records. What they found was nearly half of the participants had died since the study’s onset.

They also found that those who, when they joined, reported exercising between 2.6 and 4.5 hours per week were about 40 percent less likely to have died than their less active counterparts.

Another study published in the AHA/ASA Journals looked at 116 ,221 adults from 2 US cohorts. They found that those who followed a regular exercise routine were 19% to 25% less likely to die of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-CVD causes.

How much exercise do you need to live longer?

Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. They go on to point out that you will benefit even more by being active at least three hundred minutes, or 5 hours, per week.

But you don’t need to spend all of your free time going to the gym or walking. A recent study published in Science Daily found that everyday activities, like house cleaning, gardening, and biking to work, can provide the same benefits as organized workouts.  

The facts are that even modest amounts of exercise can make a significant difference in your mental and physical wellbeing. You have a lot to gain just by creating modest fitness goals.

Let’s examine how you can develop a sustainable and effective workout program.

Finding More Time to Exercise

When I talk to people about exercise, one of the biggest excuses I get for not exercising is, “I don’t have time.”

This can be true because time is a limited resource. So here are some suggestions for squeezing more movement into your week

1.    Limit screen time.

A recent Nielsen study found that the average American adult spends 11 hours a day looking at screens.

Using less than 10 percent of this time to exercise can help you live longer. It will also completely change your life.

You can add many hours to your day simply by turning off the TV and cutting down your browsing habit outside of work.

2.    Track your habits.

Like most things, the amount of time you invest in exercise is a habit. To identify habitual time drains, keep a journal.

You’ll find there are times that can be made available for exercise. Determine what times are best for you, maybe early in the morning or when you arrive home from work.

3. Combine activities.

Exercise doesn’t need to be a chore. You can combine exercise with many other things.

If you’re going for a walk, invite your partner to join you.

Listen to a podcast or an audiobook when you go to the gym or ride a stationary bike.

Make it a point to combine things you enjoy with your exercise sessions.

4. Spend less time commuting.

Is the gym 20 minutes away from your house?

If you have a long commute, look for activities you can do at home. You want to find exercises to help you live a longer, better life, not commuting in your car.

If you can, invest in your own exercise equipment. Take online yoga lessons or  Pilates classes.

Find exercise videos you can follow along with on YouTube.

5. Create shorter sessions.

It’s okay to break up your exercise routine into multiple shorter sessions.

Maybe you go for a short 10-minute walk for your morning break at work, followed up by 20 minutes at lunch.

You could also break the lunch walk into a 10-minute walk and then another 10-minute walk later in the afternoon or when you get home.  

Remember, the goal is to create an exercise routine that gives you a longer and better life.

Intensifying Your Workouts

These recommendations are based on moderate to vigorous physical activity. By following these strategies, you’ll burn 3 to 6 times more energy at the low end than remaining still and over 6 times at the high end.

1.    Begin with small goals.

When you start, keep in mind that your goal is to have your exercise program help you live a longer and better life. A rigorous workout can be counterproductive for this goal, especially in the beginning.

A lot of times when people begin exercising, they go all in. This can result in a lot of pain and discomfort and is the biggest reason why people quit their exercise program.

Instead, pace yourself. Start with a 10 or 15-minute walk or with a light workout at the gym. Then increase your efforts as your body acclimates to your new routine.

A common rule of thumb is to increase the intensity by up to 10% each week. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about what activities are safe for you.

2.    Try talking while exercising.

In the same manner, you don’t want to overextend yourself. An easy way to measure your intensity level is the conversation test.

What you’ll find is during moderate activity, you can talk but not sing. If you ramp up your exercise too much, you’ll find yourself struggling to say more than a few words at a time without stopping to catch your breath.

3.    Apps can help.

While they are not necessary, today’s smart watches can help you track your exercise and motivate you to continue. There are many fitness tracking devices and apps to choose from.

If you’d like a free option, you can download some basic tools like Instant Heart Rate. You can also browse your app store for more expensive options with extra features.

4.    Target working your large muscle groups.

To help reduce your workout times, focus on whole body workouts or large muscle groups.

You burn more calories when you do a whole-body workout or work large areas like your legs.

When it comes to targeting large muscle groups, smart choices include squats and rowing.

5.    Schedule rest days.

Even professional athletes need time off.

Your body needs rest and recovery time. Take a day off from exercising once or twice a week.

Exercise Can Help You Live a Longer and Better Life

As the studies in this article have shown, you can use exercise to live a longer life. But increased longevity is simply one of the many benefits of staying physically active.

By exercising regularly, you are strengthening your body and mind. Exercise can also help improve your immune system and protect you from many serious health conditions.  Whatever your reason, uncover it and find activities that you enjoy. Soon you’ll find that exercise is no longer a chore, but something you do daily to help you feel energized and alive.

secrets of the Black Belt Mindset


You’re more likely to succeed in an exercise program if you can find your reasons to commit to it. You can use what you’ll find in The Secrets of the Black Belt Mindset, Turning Simple Habits Into Extraordinary Success, to find your reasons for exercise, and much more. Pick up your copy today!

author avatar
Wil Dieck
Wil Dieck is a teacher, coach, mentor, martial arts master instructor, Neuro Linguistic Programming master trainer, and master hypnotist. He is the founder of Black Belt Breakthroughs, a community dedicated to helping people use Mindful Mind Hacking to achieve clarity and focus and feel more connected to themselves and the world around them. Through his work as an author, college professor, and martial arts instructor, he has helped thousands of people from various types of backgrounds unlock their true potential. Wil combines physical training techniques from Qigong, Taichi and Yoga, neuroscience insights from over four decades of research, mindfulness meditation and his background in NLP and hypnosis to help people access their inner power so they can gain greater feelings of joy and purpose. His passion is helping others find ultimate fulfillment in life through developing mental strength and emotional resilience.

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