Just 11 Minutes of Daily Moderate Intensity Exercise Can Lower Disease Risk

For those who have a hard time squeezing daily exercise into their busy schedules, a new study offers some good news.

Completing just 11 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and several cancers.

That’s according to a new review of 196 articles that include data on more than 30 million participants, followed for an average of 10 years. Findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Examples of moderate intensity physical activity, or exercise that raises your heart rate but not enough to where you can’t speak, include going for a brisk walk, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis and hiking.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death around the world. However, the new research indicates as many as 1 in 10 early deaths could be prevented if everyone managed at least half of the recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.

Overall, 75 minutes of moderate intensity activity was linked with a 23 percent lower risk of premature death. It also reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17 percent and cancer by 7 percent.

Researchers found even greater benefits for specific cancers. Meeting the 75 minutes per week goal was linked with a 14 to 26 percent lower risk of head and neck, myeloid leukemia, myeloma and gastric cardia cancers.

For lung, liver, endometrial, colon and breast cancer researchers found a 3 to 11 percent reduced risk.

The new analysis marks the largest to date assessing the association between physical activity levels and heart disease, cancer and early death risk, researchers 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,” said study author Soren Brage of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

“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,” Brage said in a statement.

Data showed that outside of work-related activity, 2 out of 3 people reported activity levels below the recommended 150 minutes per week. Less than 1 in 10 achieved more than 300 minutes each week.

“Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of exercise, such as sports or running. Sometimes, replacing some habits is all that is needed,” added author Leandro Garcia from Queen’s University Belfast.

This can include walking or cycling to work or school instead of using a car, or playing with your children or grandchildren more often, Garcia said.

“Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active.”

Reporting from The Hill.