Exercise increases life expectancy, regardless of people’s size

ExerciseNZ media release: 20th August 2019

Latest academic research studies have found that exercise increases life expectancy regardless of the size of people, proving exercise is critical to longevity, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

Brisk walking increased life expectancy for all of those that took part in the study reported in the British Medical Journal, regardless of their body mass index (BMI) - often used as an indicator for people’s health.

Me Beddie has just returned from India helping that country set up a registration system for exercise professionals. He heads to Lebanon this week where he will be presenting at an international conference about global exercise trends.

The benefits of brisk walking exercise applied to people of all ages so the message of ‘move your body’ is such an important one and should be the focus for every Kiwi, regardless of bodyweight, he says.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines suggest people should exercise 150 minutes a week, which means being active for 30 minutes five times a week, by doing any physical activity.

“Alternatively, people can benefit from exercising 90 minutes a week with moderate to intense activity, which also meets WHO suggested levels.

“Walking the dog regularly, or cycling to work may be enough for many, while for others a couple of trips to the gym every week meets these requirements.

“But what’s more important is every bit matters. Even if people cannot make the WHO guidelines, something is better than nothing".

There are more than 4000 preventable deaths annually in New Zealand due to lack of physical activity - compared to less than 400 due to the annual road toll. So lack of exercise is a hidden killer.

“The New Zealand exercise industry is ready and willing to play its part here and today we call on the government to work with us it to help get more Kiwis active.”

Beddie says there is so much talk about taxes on everything from sugar to processed foods but as a nation Kiwis should look at encouraging or subsidising the other side of the equation.

He says New Zealanders need to do more and this needs leadership and direction from government, local authorities, organisations and workplaces, supporting people to get more active.

“Something needs to change given that we are the worst of all the developed countries and 13th worst in the world in meeting WHO exercise guidelines."

Issues relating to New Zealanders’ lack of exercise, and what can be done about it, will be discussed at ExerciseNZ’s annual conference - a part of the New Zealand industry awards the same weekend.