A new study has found that just 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity per day can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or premature death. Activities like walking, running, cycling, and swimming are considered aerobic and can be measured by heart rate and breathing intensity. Moderate intensity activities are those that allow you to talk but not sing, while vigorous intensity activities make it difficult to carry on a conversation.
Previous research has linked higher levels of physical activity with lower rates of chronic disease and premature death, but it has been difficult to determine how the amount of exercise impacts these outcomes. To explore this, researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at data from 196 studies involving more than 30 million adult participants who were followed for an average of 10 years. The results of the study were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study focused on participants who did the minimum recommended amount of exercise per week, which is 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, or 22 minutes per day. Compared to inactive participants, those who met the minimum requirement had a 31% lower risk of dying from any cause, a 29% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 15% lower risk of dying from cancer. The same amount of exercise was linked to a 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 12% lower risk of developing cancer.
Even people who got just half the minimum recommended amount of physical activity benefited. Accumulating 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, which is about 11 minutes of activity per day, was associated with a 23% lower risk of premature death. This amount of activity was also enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%.
The study found that beyond 150 minutes per week, any additional benefits were smaller. Therefore, even a small amount of daily physical activity can have significant health benefits, and it’s important to make physical activity a regular part of your routine.