Exercising for only 15 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy by three years compared with doing little or no exercise, according to a major study of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan.
Researchers estimate that persuading inactive people to take up light, daily exercise could have a similar effect on a population’s mortality rates as a smoking cessation program.
The benefits of physical activity are well-documented, and in this latest study, published on August 16 in The Lancet, scientists wanted to examine whether smaller amounts of exercise could also confer health benefits.
Research Followed More Than 400,000 People In Taiwan
The researchers collected data on how much exercise was undertaken over the course of eight years by more than 400,000 people in Taiwan. By categorizing the participants into bands of overall activity ranging from “inactive” to “very high,” they could directly compare health outcomes based on exercise levels.
Those who exercised for an average of 92 minutes per week had a 14% overall reduced risk of mortality and a 10% reduced risk of cancer compared with people in the “inactive” group. Every additional 15 minutes of exercise above and beyond the minimum amount further reduced mortality risks by 4% and risks of death from cancers by 1%.
“These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks,” wrote the researchers in the British medical journal, The Lancet. “Individuals who were inactive had a 17% increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group.”
Just Fifteen Minutes A Day Can Make A Difference
The researchers concluded that 15 minutes a day or 90 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise might be of benefit, even for individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr Chi-Pang Wen of the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and Dr Jackson Pui Man Wai of the National Taiwan Sport University, who led the study, said that if inactive individuals in Taiwan were to engage in low-volume daily exercise, “one in six all-cause deaths could be postponed — mortality reductions of similar magnitude have been estimated for a successful tobacco control programme in the general population.”
It seems that physical activity for leisure is becoming rarer and rarer for many adults. Indeed, leisure-time activity for adults apparently drops off rapidly from early middle-age and is just not on the agenda for a large percentage of the population.
Regular Physical Activity Is Crucial For Your Health
The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. suggest that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. And as I recommend in my book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get into Nature and Build a Greener Future, getting out in nature every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, is vital for our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
What are you waiting for? Step outside!
Photo Credit: Urban Hippie Love