We’re told by doctors that daily exercise will improve our lifespans, but we’re never really told exactly how much exercise we should do in order to improve our health and longevity. Is a morning jog enough to significantly improve your odds? Or if you go all the way and start a heavy-duty exercise program, when do you hit plateaus in the life expectancy department?

These are difficult questions to answer because everyone’s health is different, and it’s nearly impossible to determine a precise figure for a healthy life expectancy. However, there are some general guidelines that can help us make some educated decisions.

How Exactly Does Exercise Improve Life Expectancy?

From all the studies we know, physical exercise can reduce mortality risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, improve blood pressure, lower the risk of some cancers, and improve cognitive function.

So right off the bat, we know that there is no exact metric – e.g. every push-up adds 10 seconds to your life – but we do know that exercise will significantly improve bodily functions that are paramount to keeping your ticker ticking for as long as possible.

Cardiovascular activity, for example, can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, meaning you’re less at risk for heart disease. It can also strengthen your lungs, improve blood flow to your heart, and increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood.

So in these cases, daily exercise reduces the risk of developing life-threatening conditions, but it can also reduce the impact of preexisting conditions. For example, people who live a sedentary lifestyle and suffer from asthmatic conditions are at greater risk for premature death, but regular exercise has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms to the point of negligibility.

1) Use Online Communities to Keep Up Your Motivation for Exercise

One of the most effective ways to stay motivated to exercise is to use online communities, like, to share your experiences and stories with others who are also going through the same thing.

You might think you’re in an impossible situation, or suffering from a debilitating condition impossible to overcome, but other people have been there and they’ve been able to find ways to overcome their challenges. Having the support and encouragement of a community will help you push past your limits, and give you the motivation you need to stay active.

2) Focus on Cardio

Earlier we mentioned whether or not there are plateaus for longevity, and we’re now going to expand on that topic. In two published studies, it turns out that between 7,000 – 8,000 steps, or around 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity like cycling and swimming, has the most benefit for longevity.

But people who went over that amount, such as reaching 10,000 steps or more than 10 hours of weekly cardio, saw declining benefits. This doesn’t mean “less is more”, but it does mean that you shouldn’t expect to get too much out of doing, well, too much.

3) Include Strength Training

Another study published by the European Society of Cardiology found that muscle power has a correlation to life expectancy, but like cardio, it has a plateau effect.

According to the study, you only need to be above the average median to increase your survival chances, so suddenly becoming a professional bodybuilder won’t grant you immortality. But basic power exercises such as pull-ups, rows, and squats will help you give you healthier muscles and bones, better balance and coordination to prevent falls in your older age, and also improve your body’s ability to recover from injuries.