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Live longer with 15 minutes exercise a day

By Gracie Valena - 21 Aug 2011 12:51:0 GMT
Live longer with 15 minutes exercise a day

The standard belief is that people must exercise for at least 30 minutes for any real health benefits to kick in. Now there's good news for those who don't have even 30 minutes to spare: just 15 minutes of exercise every day can make your life longer by up to three years.

The article published in the medical journal The Lancet reports on an observational study of 416,175 Taiwanese participants between 1996 and 2008. The subjects were part of a standard medical screening program of Taiwan's MJ Health Management Institution. They were observed for eight years on average.

Dr. Xifeng Wu, senior author of the study, explained in a press release from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center that "Exercising at very light levels reduced deaths from any cause by 14 percent."

She added "The benefits of exercise appear to be significant even without reaching the recommended 150 minutes per week based on results of previous research."

Dr. Chi-Pang Wen, lead author of the study, noted that exercising cut a person's risk of death - from any cause - by 4 percent for every additional 15 minutes of exercise up to 100 minutes a day.

Thus, exercising 30 minutes daily adds about four years to life expectancy. This life-lengthening effect was found in all ages regardless of gender.

Another way of calculating the effect is that if people who are inactive  perform low-volume daily exercise, one out of every six deaths could be postponed by their reduced risk of dying.

Participants' medical history and lifestyle were evaluated and occupational effects were taken into account.

Other factors considered were age, sex and level of education; physical labor at work; smoking and alcohol use; fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension and cancer history.

The study found that about half of the participants were inactive - defined as having less than an hour of leisure time physical activity per week. Others were classified as low, medium, high or very high based on the duration and intensity of their exercise.

Those who engaged in low-volume exercise had lower death rates than inactive people regardless of age, gender, tobacco and alcohol use, health status, including cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr. Wu said that the findings are probably going to be true for other populations. She said that "These findings can stimulate people to exercise as much as they can and to not be frustrated that they can't reach the 30 minute per day guideline."

The exercise project was funded by the Taiwan Department of Health Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and the Taiwan National Health Research Institutes.

Top Image Credit: © Andres