11 minutes of daily exercise linked to lower risk of premature death

Just 11 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can reduce the risk of premature death, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 200 studies involving a total of more than 30 million participants from around the world, who self-reported their activity levels for at least three years. The team then looked at the association between physical activity and 22 separate health outcomes, including 14 types of cancer, making it one of the largest analyzes of its kind.

The results indicated that people who were moderately active for 75 minutes per week – meaning they engaged in activities such as hiking, brisk walking, cycling to work or actively playing with their children – had lower risks of overall mortality, heart disease, stroke and various cancers. compared to people who were not active.

The researchers estimated that one in 10 premature deaths, defined by the World Health Organization as deaths between the ages of 30 and 70, counted in their analysis could have been avoided if everyone had engaged in moderate physical activity for 75 minutes per week.

That’s half the amount of exercise recommended by the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both say adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Overall, 1 in 4 adults do not meet these recommendations. In the United States, less than half of adults do.

The new research underscores the idea that even a little physical activity is better than nothing, said Leandro Garcia, author of the analysis and senior lecturer in public health at Queen’s University Belfast.

“A lot of people think that in order to get moderate levels of physical activity, or to get to those recommended levels, they have to do structured exercise sessions or really do very intense activities, when in reality, the activities we doing in our routines could also be very beneficial,” he said.

Garcia added that generally speaking, moderate physical activity can be considered anything that elevates your heart rate while still allowing you to carry on a conversation. The types of movement this involves depends on an individual’s age, health condition, and fitness level.

But Amanda Paluch, an epidemiologist and kinesiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved in the new analysis, cautioned against thinking of 11 minutes as the minimum or maximum daily goal.

“It’s a very broad and generalized number, so putting a lot of stocks in that specific number would be a bit difficult,” Paluch said.

Previous research has generally shown that brief periods of daily physical activity can improve people’s health.

A December study found that short bursts of intense movement lasting just one to two minutes, repeated three or four times a day, were associated with an up to 40% lower risk of death over a period of seven years. Unlike moderate physical activity, these intense efforts are ones that leave people out of breath.

According to this research, people whose days included this type of movement had a 49% lower risk of dying from heart disease in particular, compared to people who did not engage in any vigorous activity.

Paluch’s own research, published last year, found that people’s overall risk of death decreased as they increased their daily step count (although the effect stopped once people reached 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day).

“We find that below 10,000 steps per day there is still a significant benefit,” said Kelly Evenson, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, co-author of this study. with Paluch.

Their findings suggest that people with a median of around 6,000 to 11,000 daily steps had a 50 to 60 percent lower risk of death than those with a median of around 3,500 steps per day.

“We have seen through the ages that it is never too late to start being active and the benefits accrue quite quickly. There is no age when physical activity is not not helpful,” Evenson said.

All three experts interviewed agreed that the WHO and CDC recommendations are still the ideal thresholds for physical activity.

The new analysis found that if everyone studied had increased their moderate physical activity to the recommended 150 minutes per week, it could have prevented almost 16% of all premature deaths.

“Physical activity works on almost every cell in the body,” Paluch said. “It could influence things like inflammation, for example, which is associated with cancer.”

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