Wouldn’t you love to live to the ripe old age of 100? Just imagine how you could benefit. With all that extra time, you could spend your golden years enjoying your grandchildren (or even great-grandchildren!), traveling the world, or simply living by the beach without a care.

Well, if that’s your goal, I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to hit the treadmill!

Of course, you already know that working out is good for you, but a new study that was published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that people age 45 or older who participate in high-intensity exercise more than 30% of the time they work out lower their odds of dying by 13 percent, compared with those who don’t participate in any high-intensity exercise. The researchers came to these conclusions after studying a total of 204,000 people for more than six years.

So what does “high-intensity” mean, exactly? It means anything vigorous that requires a lot of effort and makes you sweaty and winded, such as running, competitive singles tennis, basketball, soccer, biking at a fast pace, shoveling, carrying something heavy, swimming quickly, or hiking up a hill.

Here’s a quick tip: If you’re on an exercise machine at a gym, such as an elliptical, treadmill, or stair climber, you are likely able to check your heart rate by holding onto the handlebars. The higher your heart rate goes, the more vigorous the level of exercise is. Your maximum heart rate is roughly 220 minus your age. (For more exact measurements by age, check out this chart from the American Heart Association.) The point is, you can make your level of exercise more vigorous and increase your heart rate by adding resistance, increasing the incline, or moving your body faster. So don’t hesitate to play with the buttons on the machines to challenge yourself.

The main takeaway from this report: “The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity,” study author Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention at James Cook University in Australia, said in a university news release.

Now, just to be clear, these findings don’t indicate that moderate exercise isn’t worthwhile. It certainly is! Even professional athletes need some slow days to let their bodies rest and recover. In fact, the best exercise regimens include a mixture of both high-intensity and moderate-intensity physical activity. So include some easier activities in your routine, as well, such as walking, gentle swimming, household chores (cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming), fishing, mowing the lawn, biking slowly, badminton, doubles tennis, rollerblading leisurely, yoga, dancing, golf, juggling, tossing a frisbee, ice skating, snorkeling, skateboarding, gardening, playing with children or a dog, and washing a car.

Remember, for optimal health, it’s ideal to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Try to choose physical activities that are high-intensity on at least 2 or 3 days of the week to get your heart pumping and increase your chances of living a long life.

But please note: If you have a medical condition or have never tried high-intensity exercise before, be sure to talk to you doctor before trying anything new.

For even more information on how to optimize your health, check out my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan, which is now available at all major bookstores and online retailers.

Photo Credit: 
Goodluz/shutterstock.com
References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25844882
http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/regular-vigorous-exercise-might-lengthen-your-life-698114.html
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Target-Heart-Rates_UCM_434341_Article.jsp
http://www.fitness.gov/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/