Impact of body size and physical activity on lifespan


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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New research suggests that both body size and physical activity (PA) may influence whether an individual reaches their 90th birthday; however, the associations differ between men and women. 

Researchers analysed data on 7,807 people from the Netherlands Cohort Study to assess the association between height, body mass index (BMI) and non-occupational PA and the likelihood of reaching 90 years of age in both sexes. Participants were born in 1916-1917, had completed a questionnaire in 1986 and were followed-up until the age of 90 years. 

A significant association was observed between longevity and height and BMI at baseline and increase in BMI since the age of 20 years in women. Women taller than 175 cm in height were 31 per cent more likely to reach the age of 90 years than women less than 160 cm. No such associations were seen among the men. 

Non-occupational PA showed an inverse U-shaped association with reaching longevity in women; undertaking around 60 minutes of PA per day was associated with the best chance of reaching 90 years of age. A positive linear association was observed between PA and reaching longevity in men. 

The research is published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.