Strong grandma The American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and others have long sounded the alarm about the dangers of inactivity. We would all do well to heed their warnings. It turns out that staying active not only improves overall quality of life and health outcomes, but it also extends your life. That’s right. Staying active can lead to a longer life.

Engage in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes or vigorous activity for 75 minutes each week.

Break the minutes up in any way that works for your schedule. You’ll be glad you did. Staying active reduces susceptibility to chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Studies have shown that exercise reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 40% in moderately active people and nearly 50% in more active people. Ideas to get you moving include walking, yoga, biking, swimming and fitness center classes.

Regular physical activity can also boost stability and balance. Both are of particular concern as we age. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control 1 in 3 people over 65 falls each year. The result of these falls includes fatal and non-fatal injuries such as hip and bone fractures and head trauma. Protect your health and stability with exercises that build strength in your legs and core.

The movement advice holds true even for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease or cancer. For example, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that exercise reduced the risk of cancer-related mortality.  Also, studies have shown that exercise even after myocardial infarction can reduce cardiac mortality by more than 25%. Be sure to develop any exercise plans in concert with a health care professional for best results.

Stay active all day

While the benefits of at least moderate physical activity a few times a week are irrefutable, such activity should not be used as an excuse to laze about the rest of the day. Why? It turns out that more time sitting equals less time living. Prolonged sitting leads to metabolic changes that encourage obesity, diabetes and heart disease. All of these can shorten the lifespan as well as reduce overall quality of life. Get up from your desk or easy chair at least once every 30 to 60 minutes.

Need more of a push to get moving? Here goes…a study conducted by the National Health Research Institutes found that even 15 minutes of regular activity can extend your life by a few years. That means more time to enjoy friends, family and fun – in good health. Your workout gear is calling.