Want to live a longer life? Get more exercise!

exerciseIt’s no secret that exercise has numerous health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of diabetes to easing symptoms of depression. At a time when obesity has become a nationwide epidemic, the importance of exercise is more crucial than ever. While experts agree that exercise is a necessity for a healthy lifestyle, the question remains: How much exercise do we really need?

Government health organizations recommend about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which averages out to just over 20 minutes per day, seven days a week. However, more strenuous and prolonged workout sessions may prove more beneficial.

Recent studies conducted by researchers with the National Cancer Institute and Harvard University pooled information from six large health surveys about people’s exercise habits and compared that info against 14 years of death records for the group.

As expected, those adults featured in the research who did not exercise at all carried the highest risk of premature death. They were followed not-so-closely by those adults who achieved less than the recommended exercise, yet still reduced their risk of premature death by 20 percent. The group that consistently met the recommended 150 minutes per week reduced their risk of early mortality by 31 percent.

But the benefits of exercise don’t stop there. Those who tripled the recommended amount exercise to reach a total of 450 minutes per week enjoyed a 39 percent drop in likelihood of an early death versus those who did not exercise at all. Beyond that, the study showed that longevity benefits plateaued.

These recent studies support Dr. Dirk’s long-held beliefs on daily exercise.

“I have espoused this idea for years,” Dr. Dirk says. “The old ‘20 minutes of exercise three times a week’ is worthless. The human body needs the beneficial stress of exercise to stimulate the immune system to repair. More importantly, it forces our heart and other organs to work efficiently.”

The moral of the story? The recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week is certainly better than nothing, but building upon that number for longer and more challenging workouts is likely to deliver greater benefits over time.

“To all my weight loss surgery patients: get on board!” Dr. Dirk encourages. “Start or resume your exercise routine. Slowly but surely work up to performing one continuous hour of exercise five or six times a week. (Don’t hurt yourself!) This regimen will help you get healthy, live a longer life—oh yeah, and lose a ton of weight!”