A recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association confirms what experts have been saying for decades: moderate levels of physical activity can dramatically lower the risk of death. By evaluating 15,600 black and white men, researchers from Veterans Affairs found that men who were labeled as “highly fit” had a 50 percent chance of living longer than those labeled “low fit.” Even better news? Attaining the “highly fit” label does not mean running a seven-minute mile—just walking briskly for 30 minutes, most days of the week can make a difference.

What also makes the findings significant is that this is the first study to provide specific information on the link between fitness and mortality in African-American men—a statistic lacking until now. 

Professor Peter Kokkinos, the study’s main author asserts, “Physicians should encourage individuals to initiate and maintain a physically active lifestyle, which is likely to improve fitness and lower the risk of death. Individuals should also discuss exercise with their physician before embarking on an exercise program.”