Using Accelerometer Data to Estimate Reduced Mortality via Increased Exercise

We live in an age of comfort and engines of transport. As a result, few people exercise as much as they should in order to maintain optimal health. A sizable fraction of lost capacity with aging is due to sedentary behavior, as exhibited by studies showing that structured exercise programs can reduce mortality to a similar degree to widely used preventative medicine such as statins and antihypertensive drugs. The study noted here is another way of framing the well-known relationship between exercise and mortality in later life in our species: how many deaths would be avoided were people to exercise just a little more than is presently the case?

Previous studies suggest that a substantial number of deaths could be prevented annually by increasing population levels of physical activity. However, previous estimates have relied on convenience samples, used self-reported physical activity data, and assumed relatively large increases in activity levels (e.g., more than 30 minutes per day). The potential public health benefit of changing daily physical activity by a manageable amount is not yet known. In this study, we used accelerometer measurements (1) to examine the association of physical activity and mortality in a population-based sample of US adults and (2) to estimate the number of deaths prevented annually with modest increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) intensity.

This analysis included 4,840 participants. Increasing MVPA by 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day was associated with a 6.9%, 13.0%, and 16.9% decrease in the number of deaths per year, respectively. We estimated that approximately 110,000 deaths per year could be prevented if US adults aged 40 to 85 years or older increased their MVPA by a small amount (ie, 10 minutes per day). To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate the number of preventable deaths through physical activity using accelerometer-based measurements among US adults while recognizing that increasing activity may not be possible for everyone. These findings support implementing evidence-based strategies to improve physical activity for adults and potentially reduce deaths in the US.



treadmill desk. I highly recommend it. At first knees & feet were sore.

Now after just a month I routinely walk 6 miles + / day on the thing. I can do that David Sinclair standing from sitting without using hands over & over again. Sleep better too.

Now I'm starting also to use it as a treadmill. Normally I go 2.2 mph on it. Now I'm adding 30 minutes at 4.2 mph to get the zone 2 stuff each day. Staying fit in a snowdrift.. it's great.

Posted by: Matt at February 1st, 2022 11:29 AM

@ everyone.
Can the Estimate Reduced Mortality be translated into increased life expectancy? According the article, good exercises reduce the number of deaths per year by 16.9%. How many additional years to the average life expectancy will these people get? Can we estimate this figure even approximately? I tried to answer this question from the internet, but got absolutely different results from 2 years to 25 years, which are not realistic.

Posted by: Alek Ales at February 1st, 2022 2:51 PM

That's asking for 60 hours per year, so multiplying by dollars per hour (could be doing other things) * number in cohort not dying probably means it's not worthwhile IMHO from a purely financial point of view.

I exercise about 2 hours a day as I personally find it's the best medicine.

Posted by: Robert Read at February 2nd, 2022 7:50 AM

Thank you for the post but there's not a person on earth who isn't aware that more exercise is beneficial. Yet not a single one of them will exercise more even with infinite prodding.

I am personally hopeful for life extension but aren't sure we've earned it.

Posted by: Lee at February 2nd, 2022 8:15 PM

So... is gained health/life span increase due to exercise greater than the time spent doing exercise?

Posted by: Jones at February 3rd, 2022 6:05 AM
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