A new study from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland challenges the commonly held belief that exercise alone is enough to ensure a longer life. Exercise is a crucial component of longevity. However, new research suggests that other healthy lifestyle habits may have a far bigger impact on longevity than an active lifestyle.
The team focused on the correlation between leisure-time physical activity and mortality risk. In other words, how long people live when compared to what they do during their downtime. The study is far from conclusive and is currently undergoing peer review. However, the basis of the study was a discrepancy between previous research findings on the association between exercise and mortality, some suggesting a link while others found no significant impact.
The study was fortunate enough to have access to data from over 11,000 sets of adult twins in the Finnish Twin Cohort. Using this, the researchers assessed participants’ physical activity levels through questionnaires and monitored mortality rates for 45 years. Surprisingly, the study found exercise reduced mortality risk. However, while factoring in other lifestyle elements, such as body mass index, health status, alcohol use, and smoking status, discrepancies began to emerge.
Participants in the more sedentary group (those who tended to sit more when engaging in leisure activities), when considering these additional factors, saw their mortality rate drop to a maximum of 7%. The study further revealed both sedentary and highly active groups experienced accelerated biological aging compared to moderately active and active groups. This suggests a link between intense exercise and morality comparable to a sedentary lifestyle.