Researchers found that even a simple gesture of walking for just 11 minutes per day could already lower the chances of dying early.
In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a research team sought to determine the dose-response associations between non-occupational physical activity and several chronic disease and mortality outcomes in the general adult population.
For the all-cause mortality, the conditions considered for the study included cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, total cancer and site-specific cancers.
The team reviewed 196 articles, including 94 cohorts with more than 30 million participants. The studies also followed participants for an average of 10 years to monitor their exercise habits and disease and mortality rates. These make it the largest review of its kind, according to Live Science.
The researchers found that spending at least 11 minutes per day on physical activity, or 75 minutes per week, could already lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17%. The same amount was linked to a 7% dip in cancer risk.
“Inverse non-linear dose-response associations suggest substantial protection against a range of chronic disease outcomes from small increases in non-occupational physical activity in inactive adults,” the team wrote.
They pointed out that 11 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, could lower the risk of early death by 23%. So if everyone were to do this daily, 1 in 10 premature deaths could be prevented.
“If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news,” Dr. Søren Brage, of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council epidemiology unit, said, as quoted by The Guardian.
“Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position – if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount.”
Moderate physical activity is defined as activity that raises the heart rate and makes breathing faster. It does not need to involve sports or running, which makes it hard for people to catch their breaths.
“For example, try to walk or cycle to your work or study place instead of using a car, or engage in active play with your kids or grandkids. Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active,” Dr. Leandro Garcia, of Queen’s University Belfast, explained, per The Guardian.