A sedentary lifestyle is one of the great dangers to public health, according to the World Health Organization, which advises doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise a week, however, even doing half of the exercise recommended by this body could already reap significant health benefits, as a new study reveals that brisk walk 11 minutes a day is enough for reduce the appearance of cardiovascular diseases and several types of cancer.
The study has been carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge who have reached the conclusion that one in 10 premature deaths could be avoided if the entire population performed at least half of the physical activity recommended by the WHO, that is, some 75 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise per weeksuch as walking briskly, dancing, bicycling, hiking, or playing tennis. The results have been published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that allowed them to analyze data from 196 peer-reviewed articles that included more than 30 million participants. This is the largest analysis of the association between physical activity levels and the risk of heart disease, cancer and early death to date.
The practice of physical exercise of moderate intensity 75 minutes per week was enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 17% and cancer by 7%.
They found that, excluding work-related physical activity, two in three people reported doing less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week and fewer than one in 10 more than 300 minutes per week.
They found that generally beyond 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, the additional benefits in terms of reduced risk of disease or early death were marginal. But even half that amount provided significant benefits: Accumulating 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity led to a 23% lower risk of premature death.
Change some habits to become more active
“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. Getting some physical activity is better than doing nothing. This is also a good place to start: if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try gradually increasing up to the full recommended amount”, said Dr. Soren Brage of the MRC Epidemiology Unit.
The practice of physical exercise of moderate intensity 75 minutes per week was also sufficient to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 17% and cancer by 7%. In the case of certain cancers, the reduction in risk was greater: cancers of the head and neck, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, and gastric cardia had between 14 and 26% lower risk. In others, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer, a 3-11% lower risk was observed.
According to the researchers’ estimates, if all study participants had done the equivalent of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, about one in six (16%) premature deaths, one in every nine (11%) cases of cardiovascular disease and one in 20 (5%) cases of cancer.
And if all of them performed at least 75 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity, around one in ten (10%) premature deaths, one in twenty (5%) cases of cardiovascular disease and almost one in thirty would be avoided. (3%) cancer cases.
Dr Leandro Garcia from Queen’s University Belfast said: “Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of as exercise, such as sports or running. Sometimes, replacing a few habits is all it takes. For example, try walking or cycling to work or school instead of driving, or engage in active play with your children or grandchildren. Doing activities that you enjoy and are easy to fit into your weekly routine is a great way to become more active”.