Exercise can extend life expectancy by improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. Physically active adults in a healthy weight range may increase life expectancy by seven years compared to obese, inactive peers, according to the American Heart Association.
The benefits to the cardiovascular system in particular help extend life. Aerobic activities improve heart health by lowering cholesterol, improving circulation and managing blood pressure. A healthy heart reduces the risk of heart disease -- the top cause of death for women and men in the United States. Moderate activity reduces the risk of stroke by 20 percent, while high activity levels reduce the risk by 27 percent, as reported by the American Heart Association.
A combination of cardiovascular and strength exercises improves muscle and bone strength. The physical activity helps maintain the body's overall strength and functioning as well as maintaining weight. Obesity may decrease life expectancy and increase the risk of medical conditions such as diabetes.
Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise weekly plus strength training to receive health benefits. For activities with a vigorous intensity, the minimum recommended is 75 minutes per week.