Even 11 minutes of exercise a day reduces risk of early death, researchers say
In November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first exercise guidelines for people who live a sedentary lifestyle. Under those guidelines, people who sit down for 10 or more hours each day need 30-40 minutes of moderate daily exercise to reduce the risk of an early death. Speed walking is a common way to get some moderate exercise.
But when researchers at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences analyzed studies that measured the time people spent exercising and sitting down, they found that even a mere 11 minutes of exercise a day had definite benefits.
Researchers analyzed data for around 24,000 people, with observation periods ranging from four to 14.5 years. Participants in the experiment spent an average of 8.5 to 10.5 hours each day sitting down and got eight to 35 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
In the study, which was published in the December 2020 edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers divided participants into three groups, based on the time they spent exercising and the time they spent sitting down.
The researchers found that the group with the highest risk of early death were those who spent the most time sitting down. The risk of death in the groups that sat down the most and exercised the least was 260% higher than in the groups that sat down the least and exercised the most.
But even the group that exercised a moderate amount had a clearly lower risk of early death than the group that exercised the least. Members of this middle group spent an average of 11 minutes exercising every day.
The amount of time spent sitting down each day was unrelated to the health benefits of exercising. Researchers said 35 minutes of daily exercise was ideal for maximizing longevity.
“People who spend all day sitting down need to consciously get up and move around. Speed walking is a good form of moderate exercise; even 30 minutes a day can help extend your lifespan,” said Ulf Ekelund, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the lead researcher on the project.
CNN has suggested a simple exercise routine meets the researchers’ recommendations. Four sets of 10-25 pushups (upper-body exercise), 25-40 squats (lower-body exercise), and 1-minute of running in place (full-body exercise), with each set lasting about three minutes, would add up to more than 11 minutes for the day.
By Kwak No-pil, senior staff writer
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