- New research suggests there are health benefits to exercising as little as 11 minutes a day.
- Short bursts of activity like a brisk walk can help reduce the risk of dying from major illnesses.
- Aim for moderate intensity that raises heart rate but isn’t too strenuous for you to speak.
Taking a short daily walk, bike ride, or dance break could help stave off early death, new research suggests.
Just 11 minutes of exercise a day could significantly reduce the risk of dying from chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer, according to a study published in February 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
A team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK analyzed 196 published articles, including data from more than 30 million participants, the largest analysis of its kind to date.
They found that getting 75 minutes of exercise a week was linked to 23% lower risk of early death. While the typical recommended amount of weekly exercise is 150 minutes, the researchers found that even half that amount could reduce as many as one in ten early deaths.
The results add to a growing body of evidence that exercise is good for your health, even in short bursts. Previous studies have found that small doses of exercise can be beneficial.
The latest study suggests it can be a helpful starting point for people who are otherwise sedentary, according to Dr. Soren Brage, senior author of the study and investigator of physical activity epidemiology at the University of Cambridge.
“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. 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.” Brage said in a press release.
The findings could also help more people get the required amount of moderate-intensity movement by emphasizing that more accessible activities like walking can count as exercise, according to the researchers.
Moderate intensity means activities that elevate your heart rate and breathing, but are light enough that you can still talk, such as brisk walking, hiking, or dancing.
For instance, you don’t need to hit the gym or a HIIT class — simple changes like walking or biking to work instead of driving, or playing with your kids can be effective, according to Dr. Leandro Garcia, co-author of the study and public health lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.
“Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of exercise, such as sports or running. Sometimes, replacing some habits is all that is needed,” Garcia said in the press release. “Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active.”