In a study from the University of Cambridge, scientists found 1 in 10 early deaths could be prevented if everyone managed at least half the recommended level of physical activity.
They suggest that 11 minutes a day (75 minutes a week) of moderate-intensity physical activity—such as a brisk walk—would be sufficient to lower the risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers.
Physical activity—particularly when it is moderate-intensity—is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
The NHS recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.
In the study, the team reviewed data from all of the published evidence.
In total, they looked at results reported in 196 studies, covering more than 30 million participants from 94 large study cohorts.
This is the largest analysis to date of the association between physical activity levels and the risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death.
The researchers found that outside of work-related physical activity, two out of three people reported activity levels below 150 min per week of moderate-intensity activity and fewer than one in ten managed more than 300 min per week.
Broadly speaking, they found that beyond 150 min per week of moderate-intensity activity, the additional benefits in terms of reduced risk of disease or early death were marginal.
But even half this amount came with significant benefits: accumulating 75 min per week of moderate-intensity activity brought with it a 23% lower risk of early death.
Seventy-five minutes per week of moderate activity was also enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%.
For some specific cancers, the reduction in risk was greater—head and neck, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, and gastric cardia cancers were between 14-26% lower risk.
For other cancers, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer, a 3-11% lower risk was found.
The team says moderate-intensity physical activity raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, but you would still be able to speak during the activity.
Examples include: Brisk walking, Dancing, Riding a bike, Playing tennis, and Hiking.
If you care about exercise, please read studies about exercise that may slow down bone aging, and this exercise is vital to improving longevity in older people.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about coconut sugar that could help reduce blood pressure and artery stiffness, and anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease.
The study was conducted by Dr. Soren Brage et al and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
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