Written by Dr. Mark
One in 12 deaths could be prevented with 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. That’s the conclusion from the world’s largest study of physical activity, which analysed data from more than 130,000 people across 17 countries.
Over the period studied, Scott Lear, from McMaster University in Canada and his colleagues found that 150 minutes of activity per week reduced the risk of death from any cause by 28 per cent and rates of heart disease by a fifth.
Being highly active was associated with even greater benefits: people who spent more than 750 minutes walking briskly each week reduced their risk of premature death by 36 per cent.
Results showed that it was not necessary to run, swim or work out at the gym. Household chores such as vacuuming or scrubbing the floor, or merely walking to work provided enough exercise to protect the heart and extend life.
“Going to the gym is great, but we only have so much time we can spend there. If we can walk to work, or at lunch time, that will help too,” says Lear.
The World Health Organisation recommend that adults aged 18 to 64 do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity throughout the week, as well as muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
The study found that if the world’s population met these guidelines, 8 per cent of global deaths over seven years would be prevented.
“The clear-cut results reinforce the message that exercise truly is the best medicine at our disposal for reducing the odds of an early death,” says James Rudd, senior lecturer in cardiovascular medicine, at the University of Cambridge. “If a drug company came up with a medicine as effective as exercise, they would have a billion-dollar blockbuster on their hands and a Nobel prize in the post.”
None of this information is new. We know, and have known that exercise is fundamental to health. It is necessary to move, get our heart going, and push or pull against some resistance. I guess it is always good to have some “data” to back up what we’ve always known, so I like studies like this. I like that they basically said any physical activity is going to give you a benefit. But they also said “going to the gym is great” and we should do “muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.” I’m glad they didn’t leave it at, just walk and you’ll be fine, but more of a you should at least be walking or doing some sort of physical activity, and it will help you, but really your best option is really working out which includes strength training.
I almost didn’t use this for today’s daily sprout because it may seem to go against what you’ll often hear us preach exercise should be; which is high intensity with low duration. This type of exercise IS more beneficial in a number of ways, but it can also fit to this standard if instead of doing 30 minutes – five days each week you do 5-10 minutes intense work, which leads to an increased heart rate for 30 + minutes 5 times a week, you’re accomplishing they goal in less time with a more efficient/intense workout.
So if you are pretty sedentary, make 2018 the year you move more, and if you do move a lot, consider adding some high intensity work to your routine. And if you already do that, well keep beating yourself and get better each time.