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Even Minimal Exercising Goes A Long Way In Preventing Early Death

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Every bit really counts when it comes to exercise, a new study says. The benefits of physical activity are evident, whether it’s spending the whole day at the gym or just taking the stairs at work.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a yearly government survey that includes comprehensive interviews and physical check-ups in order to understand overall health, Gizmodo reports.

The team looked specifically at 4,820 volunteers over the age of 40 who took the survey from 2003 to 2006. As a part of the survey, the participants wore a device on their wrists called an accelerometer that looked at how often they moved for a week. The researchers then went to find out how many of the participants were still alive in 2011, using a different database.

By 2011, 4,140 of the volunteers in the survey were still alive. Those who had recorded higher amounts of physical activity were more likely to still be kicking, regardless of whether they exercised for 10 minutes daily, or just randomly throughout the day.

In general, people who completed 30 minutes a day of vigorous exercise were around one-third less likely to die than people who did no exercise at all, while those who got 60 minutes of exercise daily were  more than half less likely to die. Those who went all out and got 100 minutes of exercise a day were 80% less likely to kick the bucket compared to stationary people.

For about 30 years, guidelines have suggested that moderate-to-vigorous activity could provide health benefits, but only if you sustained the activity for 10 minutes or more,

William E. Kraus, a professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and lead author, said. “That flies in the face of public health recommendations, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther from your destination. Those don’t take 10 minutes, so why were they recommended?”

The use of accelerometers provided a more objective, accurate measurement of exercise, compared to previous studies that relied on self-reporting. The researchers said, “This finding can inform future physical activity guidelines and guide clinical practice when advising individuals about the benefits of physical activity. This flexibility may be particularly valuable for individuals who are among the least active and likely at greater risk for developing chronic conditions.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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