We’ve all heard the advice of medical experts about the importance of including exercise in our regular routines. And still, there are many reasons why people don’t follow through. But according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, enjoying the health benefits of exercise is far easier than you might expect.
The researchers, mainly from the University of Cambridge, say that just 11 minutes per day of medium-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, is enough to lower the risk of premature mortality by 23%, compared to not doing any exercise at all. Although 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week has long been the recommendation (and is linked to a 31% decrease in premature mortality risk), even getting 75 minutes a week confers a significant benefit. Specifically, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7% – though getting the full 150 minutes is undoubtedly better, with a 27% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 12% lower risk of cancer compared to being inactive.
For the record, moderate exercise is when you are working hard enough so that you are able to carry a conversation but not sing, whereas vigorous exercise involves breathing so heavily that you cannot carry a conversation. Interestingly, the health benefits seem to level off after 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise.
Just get moving:
- The findings were based on 196 peer-reviewed articles, covering more than 30 million participants. This is the largest analysis to date exploring the link between physical activity levels and the risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death.
- Globally, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, responsible for around 18 million deaths per year.
- The findings affirm the World Health Organization's position that doing some physical activity is better than doing none. "One in 10 premature deaths could have been prevented if everyone achieved even half the recommended level of physical activity," the researchers wrote.