Walking at a brisk pace for just 11 minutes a day slashes the risk of a premature death by almost a quarter, according to new research.
The team led by researchers at the University of Cambridge showed how one in ten early deaths could be prevented if everyone managed to reach the threshold of 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
The study demonstrated that this would be sufficient to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke–the leading causes of death globally—as well as a number of cancers.
To explore the amount of physical activity necessary to have a beneficial impact on several chronic diseases and premature death, researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis, pooling and analyzing cohort data from all of the published evidence. This approach allowed them to bring together studies that on their own did not provide sufficient evidence and sometimes disagreed with each other to provide more robust conclusions.
In total, they looked at results reported in 196 peer-reviewed articles, covering more than 30 million participants from 94 large study cohorts, to produce the largest analysis to date of the association between physical activity levels and 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 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, the amount recommended by NHS, Britain’s national health service.
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.
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