Just 11 minutes a day (or 75 minutes a week) of brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis or hiking would be sufficient to lower the risk of death caused by diseases such as heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers, according to a new study.
The recommended physical activity a week is 150 minutes. But managing at least half with moderate to intense activity level, that is 75 minutes a week or 11 minutes a day, can prevent one in 10 early deaths, said a team led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK.
“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,” Soren Brage from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the varsity said.
Cardiovascular diseases — such as heart disease and stroke — are the leading cause of death globally, responsible for 17.9 million deaths per year in 2019, while cancers were responsible for 9.6 million deaths in 2017.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that 75 minutes per week of moderate activity was enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17 per cent and cancer by 7 per cent.
For some specific cancers, the reduction in risk was greater — head and neck, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma, and gastric cardia cancers were between 14-26 per cent lower risk.
For other cancers, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer, a 3-11 per cent lower risk was observed.
“We know that physical activity, such as walking or cycling, is good for you, especially if you feel it raises your heart rate. But what we’ve found is there are substantial benefits to heart health and reducing your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes every day,” Professor James Woodcock from the MRC Epidemiology Unit said.