New Study Shows Exercise Increases Lifespan. Why Aren’t We Exercising?

A recent study shows the great benefits of increased physical activity.  The Lancet published the exciting findings that a mere 15 minutes of physical activity for inactive people could reduce their risk of death by 14% and extend their lives by 3 years.

Compared with individuals in the inactive group, those in the low-volume activity group, who exercised for an average of 92 min per week (95% CI 71—112) or 15 min a day (SD 1·8), had a 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality (0·86, 0·81—0·91), and had a 3 year longer life expectancy. Every additional 15 min of daily exercise beyond the minimum amount of 15 min a day further reduced all-cause mortality by 4% (95% CI 2·5—7·0) and all-cancer mortality by 1% (0·3—4·5).

Most of us already know that exercise is good for us.  So why aren’t we all getting the life extending benefits?  I suggest that it’s due to the compartmentalization of our lives.  After reading this study, you may be thinking about going to the gym after work, but then you realize that you have to drive home in traffic, stop at the grocery store, cash a check at the bank, and get home to make dinner.  You’d love to try to exercise, but going to the gym for 15 minutes will take you 15 minutes to commute each way and even more time if you have to find parking.  With all of the tasks on your plate, it’s impossible to find time to run on a treadmill.  Giving it further thought, you don’t even feel very motivated to go to the gym.  Running on a treadmill makes me feel like a rodent on a hamster wheel.

So what is the solution?  You guessed it.  The bicycle!  Our lives are already compartmentalized enough, why make exercise separate?  Make your transportation your exercise.  This may sound ambitious, but it’s easy to start small.  Not to mention fun!  Most 15 minute bicycle trips take just as long to drive in Los Angeles when you factor in traffic and parking.  The next time you need to stop at the bank and the market, take the trip on your bike.  Now you’ve crossed off two of your errands and received your daily physical activity.

Perhaps the key to a better life is finding ways to integrate health and pleasure into our daily activities.  Synergy is when two or more components create more than their separate parts.  The mechanics of a bicycle are synergistic.  Human-powered transportation is too.   Synergize your life with the bicycle!