Cut disease and death risk with 15 min. exercise

Research finds that even as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day can increase life expectancy

Cut disease and death risk

Yes, oh yes, you might be surprised to learn that as little as 15 minutes of physical activity a day can actually reduce your risk of death by as much as 14 per cent. More so, it can also increase your life expectancy by about three years. This inviting news is the finding of new research and reported in The Lancet, August 2011.

Currently, it is recommended that adults do at least a total of 150 minutes or two and a half hours of physical activity a week. At the same time, results of the new study discovered that even 15 minutes a day or 105 minutes of exercise a week can still yield health enhancing benefits. The research involved more than 400,000 people in Taiwan where they were monitored for an average of eight years. The methodology was based on their self-reported amounts of weekly exercise. They were categorised into 5 categories namely - inactive, low, medium, high and very high in terms of activity. Those from the low-activity group exercised an average of 92 minutes per week. This works out to just under 15 minutes a day

When compared to those in the inactive group who had almost no physical activity, those in the low-activity group were found to be 14 per cent less likely to die from any cause. 10 per cent were less likely to die of cancer and they on the average, had a three-year longer life expectancy. After the initial 15-minute threshold, every additional 15 minutes of exercise further reduces risks of death by all causes by as much as 4 per cent; along with reduction of death from cancer by 1 per cent. The remarkable benefits of even low levels of physical activity were seen in all age groups. They were also seen in both men and women and people with risks of cardiovascular disease.

If you have the flexibility of time, you can enjoy several minor workout sessions throughout the day. It’s vital to observe that your heart rate should be maintained at about 70-80 percent of its maximum during any workout routine. Keep track on your heart rate throughout your routines.

With this research in Taiwan, it was discovered that if inactive individuals engage in low-volume daily exercise, one in six all-cause deaths could be postponed. The reduction in mortality of similar magnitudes has been estimated for a successful tobacco control program in the general population according to Dr. Chi-Pang Wen of the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan. He further stated that if the minimum amount of exercise as suggested is adhered to, mortality from heart disease, diabetes and cancer could be reduced. It was concluded that this low volume of physical activity could play a central part in the global war against non-communicable diseases, reducing medical costs and health disparities.

According to Dr. Anil Nigam and Dr. Martin Juneau, of the Montreal Heart Institute and Universite de Montreal in Quebec, Canada, the knowledge that as little as 15 minutes per day of exercise on most days of the week can substantially reduce an individual's risk of dying could encourage many more individuals to incorporate a small amount of physical activity into their busy lives. Governments and health professionals both have major roles to play to spread this good news story and convince people of the importance of being at least minimally active.

In reality, you can easily allocate a mere 15 minutes a day to dedicate to better your health and ultimately, enhancing your capability at avoiding illnesses. It's a very small but wise "investment". There's flexibility too and you may opt for indoor or outdoor activities. You may also further opt for dry-land or water-oriented activities. A simple brisk walk can yield so much good benefits if done regularly as against being a couch potato enjoying your favourite screen entertainment or being "glued" to your computer.

If preferred, you may join a gym or acquire some fitness equipment for your home. Common and popular equipment ranges from treadmills, crosstrainers to exercycles or home gyms.

Or you may opt to adorn your swimsuit and plunge into a cool pool.

You don't need to be a fitness buff or exercise fanatic to gain from the benefits of exercise. As the good doc said "just 15 minutes will do".