Daily walk can prevent one in ten early deaths, finds Cambridge study
One in ten early deaths could be prevented if people engaged in a small amount of daily exercise such as a brisk 11-minute walk, found a recent study by University of Cambridge researchers.
While most people don't manage to do the minimum recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week, the research team looked at hundreds of previous studies on the benefits of physical activity and concluded that even doing half the recommended amount could prevent one in 20 cases of cardiovascular disease and nearly one in 30 cases of cancer, reports the BBC.
According to the meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, doing that amount is enough to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and stroke by 17% and cancer by 7%. Regular exercise reduces body fat and blood pressure while also improving fitness, sleep and heart health in the long run.
"You should feel yourself moving, your heart will beat faster but you won't necessarily feel out of breath," said Soren Brage, an expert on the epidemiology of physical activity at Cambridge University and the lead of the study.
Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other leading causes of death, but exactly how much is needed to have an impact has been unclear. So the researchers pooled together the results of 196 previous studies which included more than 30 million people to create one of the largest reviews conducted on the subject.
The benefits of exercise were even greater for some specific cancers, such as head and neck, gastric, leukaemia and blood cancers, but lower for lung, liver, endometrial, colon and breast cancers.
"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. If you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount," Brage added.
Researchers said replacing some habits is all that is needed; for example, they advised that one should try to walk or cycle to work or to the shops instead of using a car.