We know that physical activity is good for us. It reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease (all on the top-ten list of leading causes of death in the United States), lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality and duration and boosts your mood. But did you know it can also help you live longer?

According to a study published this summer in The BMJ, recent research suggests that anyone can substantially increase their longevity just by becoming slightly more physically active. Even better? These benefits carry through regardless of your past physical activity levels or other risk factors such as diet, BMI or medical history. 

The almost twenty-year study, which included more than 14,000 middle-aged and older adults, showed that a modest increase in exercise—think taking a brisk walk or mowing the lawn with a push-mower—reduced the risk of death by 24%. And, those who increased their exercise even more, jogging or playing a casual sport a few times per week, lowered their risk of death by as much as 42%, even among those who hadn’t been physically active at the beginning of the study.

The study used the World Health Organization’s (WHO) physical activity guidelines for adults as the standard measure of participants’ physical activity. The guidelines state that adults should do at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which could look something like walking the dog for 30 minutes each day or spending a morning tending to a garden. For additional health benefits, the WHO recommends reaching 300 minutes of activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and more intense activity. 

These guidelines are a great rule-of-thumb when it comes to building more physical activity into your routine. As the research shows, it’s never too late to realize the substantial benefits from even modest physical activity. But to move more—and more often—your body needs to feel good. Orthology can help you there.

Working with a physical therapist or chiropractor can help you achieve your physical activity goals pain-free, so you can get back to enjoying a longer life filled with the activities you love.