Previously it was generally accepted by international and national health organizations that to get any benefit from exercise then 150 minutes a week of moderately aerobic exercise had to take place. The World Health Organization and the UK’s NHS both promote the belief that 150 minutes of exercise should be done every week.
But a study published in ‘The Lancet’ states that the amount of exercise taken can be a lot less and there will still be benefits. Chi-Pang Wen, MD, MPH, DrPH, of National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and China Medical University Hospital, and Jackson Pui Man Wai, PhD, of National Taiwan Sport University conducted the study of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan between 1996 and 2008. Participants were followed up on average 8 years later.
The study group was placed into one of five groups according to their self assessed exercise levels; inactive, low, medium, high, or very high. Risks were then calculated for each group against the inactive group. Life expectancy was then calculated for each group. One group of findings indicated that by exercising for only 15 minutes everyday the risk of death can be reduced by 14% against the inactive group, and the risk of cancer drops by 10%, life expectancy also increased by 3 years.
The report also finds that every additional 15 minutes of moderate exercise further reduced the risk of death by 4% and dying of cancer is further reduced by another 1%. The findings were comparable across all ages and both sexes. The report further states that the benefits are applicable to those with heart disease too. Those who were inactive had a 17% increase in mortality risk when compared to those who did low volume exercise.
In the study the authors say "If the minimum amount of exercise we suggest is adhered to, mortality from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer could be reduced. 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."
Other medical researchers were more cautious, suggesting that the extended life benefits of doing less exercise were as yet not clear. There is an acceptance that doing a small amount of exercise is better than not exercising, however they say evidence clearly shows that more exercise is better. Some medical professionals do say that if it is proved conclusively that 15 minutes of exercise a day is beneficial then it would encourage more busy individuals to take up exercise. They also say that governments and health professionals must participate to make sure that people are informed of the possible benefits to be gained by fitting 15 minutes of exercise into there busy lives.
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