According to Cambridge researchers, brisk walking for 11 minutes a day reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers.
They say one in 10 premature deaths could be prevented if everyone could do 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, which is half the amount recommended by the NHS.
He suggests that adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, such as brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis or hiking, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity.
To explore how much physical activity is required to have a beneficial effect on the risk of premature death or of several chronic diseases, researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge conducted a systematic review and analysis, compilation and cohort analysis of data from all published evidence.
Dr Soren Bragg, of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “If you’re someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a little daunting, our findings should be good news. Doing some physical activity is better than doing it.” Not doing any physical activity. This is also a good starting point – if you find 75 minutes per week is manageable, you can try to gradually bring it up to the full recommended amount.”
They found that 75 minutes per week of moderate activity reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17 percent and cancer by seven percent. The effect was greater for some types of cancer – the risk of head and neck cancer, myeloid leukemia, myeloma and stomach cancer decreased by between 14 and 26 percent.
For other types of cancer, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon and breast cancer, the risk was reduced by between 3 and 11 percent.
Professor James Woodcock, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “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 found is that there are significant benefits for heart health. and reduce your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes each day.”
It has long been known that physical activity – especially of at least moderate intensity – reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, which are the leading cause of death globally, responsible for 17.9 million deaths in 2019. It also reduces the death rate. Cancer risk, which killed an estimated 9.6 million people in 2017.
Cardiovascular diseases – such as heart disease and stroke – are the leading cause of death globally, accounting for 17.9 million deaths annually in 2019, while cancers were responsible for 9.6 million deaths in 2017.
For their study, the Cambridge researchers examined findings reported in 196 peer-reviewed articles, covering more than 30 million participants from 94 large study groups, creating the largest analysis to date of the relationship between physical activity levels and risk of heart disease, cancer and early death.
This approach enabled them to combine studies that on their own did not provide sufficient evidence, or even disagreed with each other, in order to make more robust conclusions.
Outside of work-related physical activity, two out of three people report activity levels of less than 150 minutes per week of recommended moderate-intensity activity. Less than one in 10 manage more than 300 minutes a week.
But overall, they found that the reduced risk of disease or premature death for those who exceeded 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity was marginal.
Those who accumulate 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity have a 23 percent lower risk of premature death.
The researchers calculated that if each person in the studies achieved 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, one in six premature deaths (16 percent) would be prevented.
They said that one in 9 (11 per cent) cases of cardiovascular disease and one in 20 (five per cent) cancers would be prevented.
If everyone could engage in at least 75 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, about 10 percent of premature deaths would be prevented. They found that five percent of cases of cardiovascular disease and three percent of cancer cases could have been avoided.
Dr Leandro Garcia, from Queen’s University Belfast, said: ‘Moderate activity does not have to involve what we normally think of as exercise, such as sports or running. Sometimes all that is needed is to replace some habits. For example, try walking or riding Bike to work or study instead of using the car, or engage in active play with your children or grandchildren. Doing activities you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active.”
Moderate-intensity physical activity is described as getting your heart rate up and making you breathe faster, but still being able to talk during it.
Research published in British Journal of Sports MedicineFunded by the Medical Research Council and the European Research Council.
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