obese exerciseWhile exercise and a diet each have their own benefits to our health and longevity, a new study is proving you should not neglect exercise if you want to live longer. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and other organizations have found that 150 minutes of weekly “moderate-intensity, leisure time” exercise leads to an average of 3.4 more years to a person’s life.

While the idea that active people live longer may not come as a huge shocker, there’s more to the story: The researchers found that regular, moderately-intense exercise was also associated with an increased life expectancy for people with an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Yes, being overweight and active may make you healthier than a skinny person who is sedentary.

“Overweight, obese, severely obese – if you are active, the results suggest that you… have more of a benefit than someone who is not heavy but not active,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the senior author of the study.

Don’t mistake this as an endorsement for remaining obese as long as you exercise – obesity related diseases are still a factor and can shorten your life. Exercise adding three years to your life may still mean premature death if you are otherwise not eating right and taking care of yourself. It’s more a testament to the amazing power of exercise and how it changes you internally… even if you are still carrying more weight than you should.