Exercise poses some serious benefits in terms of improving health. But doing a full workout can sometimes feel impossible—there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But what if you only needed 11 minutes? A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 11 minutes of exercise each day can have major benefits on health and longevity.
The study, published last week, was a meta-analysis of over 194 articles that culminated in over 30 million participants around the world, who self-reported activity levels for a minimum of three years. In the meta-analysis, researchers aimed to examine the relationship between physical activity and chronic disease and mortality in adults.
The study found that exercising at a moderate to high intensity for just 11 minutes a day was linked to a 23% lower risk of early death, a 17% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), and a 7% lower risk of cancer.
Researchers noted that 11 minutes of exercise a day (or 75 minutes per week) is equivalent to “half the recommended minimum levels” of exercise established by the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who both recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. “One in 10 premature deaths could have been prevented if everyone achieved even half the recommended level of physical activity,” the study notes.
Ultimately, researchers said that doing some daily physical activity is better than none, and suggested that threshold-based recommendations for activities be further reduced.
“I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that ‘some is better than nothing’ when it comes to exercise. As a medical community, we have done an inadequate job at relaying this message. The literature supports that even mild levels of activity can improve multiple measures of health,” explains Rigved Tadwalkar, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. “This study evaluated a robust data set and revealed that benefits were seen from 75 minutes or less per week of moderate-intensity activity, which is half the minimum recommended level. Moreover, analysis of the dose-response relationship coveys that we actually see that the largest benefit from small increases in physical activity in those who are inactive.”
But, Dr. Tadwalker notes that this message needs to be conveyed on a larger scale. “It is important that we emphasize this to our patients, particularly those who are less physically active,” continued Dr. Tadwalkar. “People should gain confidence knowing that it all adds up in the end—even a small amount of activity is better than none when it comes to improving health.”
Exercise in general works to “condition the heart” thus “helping to reduce the resting blood pressure and heart rate, decreasing circulating glucose levels, and decreasing inflammation, and ultimately leading to improved cardiovascular mortality by those mechanisms,” Jennifer Wong, M.D., cardiologist and medical director of non-invasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center previously said.
So, what are some simple ways you can increase your level of exercise each day? “If one is unsure where to begin, I suggest that individuals aim to walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week,” said Dr. Tadwalkar. “If this seems too challenging, I suggest taking 5-to-10-minute walks whenever the opportunity arises.” Dr. Tadwalkar also suggests walking around the workplace for 10 to 15 minutes when you have the chance or ise a foot or arm bike while at home watching television or doing other stationary activities.
“It is important to remember that any amount of physical activity, no matter how small, is better than none at all,” Dr. Tadwalkar says. “Starting with small steps can help build confidence, and eventually lead to greater rewards for one’s body.”
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