Study co-author Kathleen Y. Wolin of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and colleagues examined data from the Harvard Alumni Health Study, an ongoing study of men who entered Harvard as undergraduates from 1916 to 1950.
Researchers analyzed data of 1,021 men -- average age 71 -- who previously had been diagnosed with cancer.
In questionnaires completed in 1988, men reported their physical activities -- including walking, stair climbing and participation in sports and recreational activities. Their physical activities were updated in 1993, and the men were tracked until 2008.
The study, published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health, found compared with men who expended fewer than 420 calories per week in physical activity, men who expended more than 2,500 calories per week were 48 percent less likely to die of any cause during the follow-up period.
The finding was adjusted for age, smoking, body mass index, early parental mortality and dietary variables.