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Exercising 11 minutes a day may save your life, study finds

Scientists say the exercise does not have to be vigorous. They give five examples of exercises you can do to fend off cancer and heart disease.
Several people walking on treadmills.
Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 01, 2023

Can you carve out 11 minutes a day to exercise? If so, that’s all the time needed to lower your risk of a premature death, according to a new study. 

According to findings published this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 11 minutes a day of moderate physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers.

The study’s authors noted that the exercise does not even have to be too vigorous. Something as simple as a brisk walk would count. The authors also say exercises such as dancing, biking, playing tennis or hiking are other good examples of moderate exercise. 

“Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of exercise, such as sports or running,” said Dr. Leandro Garcia from Queen’s University Belfast. “Sometimes, replacing some habits is all that is needed. For example, try to walk or cycle to your work or study place instead of using a car, or engage in active play with your kids or grand kids. Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active.”

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The study found that 11 minutes a day of physical activity reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. 

The study found that around 22 minutes a day of moderate activity resulted in even lower risks. The data indicated a 23% lower chance of early death. 

Going beyond 150 minutes a week, or 22 minutes a day, resulted in minimal benefit. 

“We know that physical activity, such as walking or cycling, is good for you, especially if you feel it raises your heart rate,” Professor James Woodcock from the MRC Epidemiology Unit said. “But 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.”

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The study noted that cardiovascular diseases were the No. 1 cause of death globally in 2019, resulting in 17.9 deaths.

There is also research out there that exercise improves immune function. 

“It is certainly important to exercise because exercise has been shown to improve your immune function and actually prevent infections because of the improved immune function,” Dr. Mark Conroy, a specialist in sports and emergency medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, previously told Scripps News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate – or 75 minutes of vigorous – physical activity a week in addition to two days of strength training.