Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Exercise as effective as stopping smoking

  • Comment

Nurses can now tell middle aged men that taking up exercise will prolong their lives to the same level as stopping smoking, following latest Swedish study findings.

Around half of all middle aged men in western societies do not take part in any physical activity and getting them to change presents a challenge, reports the team from the Uppsala Clinical Research Centre in Sweden.

Their study of 2,205 men aged 50 tracked physical activity levels from 1970-1973 for 35 years with surveys and examinations five times during this period.

Overall 1,078 had high activity levels at the study start – equivalent to three hours of sports or heavy gardening per week – 36% had medium levels of activity and 15% were sedentary.

By the end of the study, 60% had died. However, death rates were 2.6 times higher in those that took up exercise during middle age in the first five years compared to men whose activity levels were already high.

After adjustments for other variables, they showed those doing high levels of physical activity from the age of 50 were likely to live 2.3 years longer than sedentary men and 1.1 years longer than those doing medium levels of activity.

The authors of the study, published online in the BMJ, note the effect of taking up high activity levels in middle age has an equivalent cut in death rates to stopping smoking.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.