In a new study, researchers found low physical activity in leisure time is linked to a lower risk of death.
This means even brisk walk once or twice a week may help you live longer.
The research was conducted by researchers from China and the U.S.
Previous studies found that physical activity plays an important role in our health.
Regular physical activity has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and death.
The current guidelines recommend people have a minimum of 150 min/week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity like brisk walking or 75 min/week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity like running.
However, less than half of US adults have met this recommendation.
It is also unknown whether very low levels of physical activity and very high levels of physical activity could benefit health.
In the current study, the team examined health data from the National Health Interview Surveys.
A total of 88,140 adults aged 40–85 years were included.
The team found that compared with people who had a sedentary lifestyle, people performing 10–59 min/week of physical activity had 18% lower risk of death.
In addition, people who reported 1–2 times the recommended level of leisure time physical activity had a 31% lower risk of death.
Moreover, for people who did leisure time physical activity 10 or more times (≥1500 min/week) the recommended minimum level, the health benefits continued.
The team also found that vigorous physical activity could reduce death risk more than moderate physical activity.
The findings suggest that the health benefits linked to leisure-time physical activity start from a very low dose.
If people can do more vigorous exercises like biking, running, and football, the benefits could be stronger.
This is because vigorous exercises are more time-efficient than moderate intensity exercises.
The researchers warn that the study was observational, and further work needs to examine the direct causal relationship between physical activity and death risk.
The lead author of the study is Min Zhao from Shandong University.
The study is published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.
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