While we know daily exercise is a driver of good health, we’re constantly on the lookout for the minimum needed to get results.
To satisfy this, along comes a study from Cambridge University proposing a daily 11-minute brisk walk is enough to reduce risk of early death.
The NHS recommends we do 150 minutes of exercise per week, but Cambridge researchers say one in 10 early deaths could be prevented if everyone managed half that.
It turns out 11 minutes a day (75 minutes a week) of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as a brisk walk, would be sufficient to lower the risk of certain diseases.
Scientists carried out a major review, pooling and analysing data from all the published evidence.
They looked at results reported in 196 articles, covering more than 30million participants from 94 large studies, and produced the biggest analysis of the link between physical activity levels and heart disease, cancer and early death.
Broadly speaking, they found doing 75 minutes per week brought with it a 23% lower risk of early death. Dr Soren Brage, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news.
“Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position – if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount.”
And 75 minutes was also enough to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. For head and neck, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma, and gastric cardia cancers, the reduction was greater, with a 14% to 26% lower risk.
For other cancers, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon and breast, the risk reduction was between 3% and 11%.
Professor James Woodcock from the MRC Epidemiology Unit said: “What we’ve found is there are substantial benefits to heart health and reducing your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes every day.”
If everyone managed at least 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, they say around one in 10 early deaths would be prevented, one in 20 cases of cardiovascular disease and nearly one in 30 cases of cancer.
Moderate-intensity physical activity raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster, but you would still be able to speak during the activity.
Examples include brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis and hiking.