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Aug 31, 2011

15 Active Minutes a Day for Longer Life

Exercising just 15 minutes a day increases life expectancy by 3 years.

Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week to promote good health. Regular physical activity has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reduced risk for heart disease and heart attack. So whether you’re cleaning your house or going for a run, engaging in at least 150 minutes of any type of physical activity has been proven to be beneficial to your health.

But what about those who exercise less than the recommended 150 minutes each week? Do they achieve any health benefits, or is it all or nothing?

A study published in medical journal The Lancet followed over 416,000 individuals for an average of 8 years to see if engaging in some physical activity (92 minutes/week or 15 minutes/day) was associated with any health benefits. They found that exercising for just 15 minutes each day helps reduce risk for death by 14% and increases life expectancy by 3 years. And for every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise, risk for death decreased by 4%.

Based on these findings, those people exercising less than the recommended 150 minutes each week still benefit from physical activity. Although risk for death, among other health conditions, decreases with increased physical activity, this study helps reinforce the saying that “some is better than none.” Whether you fit 15, 30, or 45 minutes of activity into your daily life, every bit counts and can help improve your cardiovascular and overall health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is the difference between physical activity and exercise?
  • Physical activity is any type of movement that causes your muscles to exert energy. Exercise, on the other hand, is a planned and repetitive movement sustained for a prolonged period of time. Both physical activity and exercise get the body moving, helping to burn fat and promote good health.
  • Do those getting more than the recommended 150 minutes/week achieve greater health benefits than those just meeting the guidelines?
  • Yes. Based on this study, risk for death decreases by 4% with every 15 minutes of exercise each day beyond the minimum of 15 minutes/day. And other study findings agree — the more often you exercise, the greater the health benefits.

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