Health And Lifestyle For The Over 50s

Small Bursts of Activity Can Help You Live Longer

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We all know that getting enough exercise has plenty of health benefits, but many find it difficult to fit a lot of it into their daily routine. However, a study by researchers at the University of Utah has highlighted that it only takes small amounts of activity to improve your health.

The team used statistical techniques to examine the effects of trading sedentary behaviour for different levels of physical activity in 3,243 patients. They found that trading two minutes of sitting each hour for two minutes of light activity, such as casual walking or housework, had a significant impact, reducing the risk of an untimely death by a third. For those with chronic kidney disease, the difference was particularly pronounced, lowering mortality by 41%.

“Exercise is great, but the reality is that the practical amount of vigorous exercise that can be achieved is limited,” says study co-author Dr Tom Greene. “Our study suggests that even small changes can have a big impact.”

The researchers have also emphasised that moderate exercise offers benefits that such gentle activity alone does not, such as strengthening the heart, muscles and bones. However, adding gentle small bursts of activity to your routine is a good place to start and a great way to enhance a routine which already includes some moderate exercise.

“It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity,” says study leader Professor Srinivasan Beddhu. “To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing. Based on these results, we would recommend adding to minutes of walking each hour in combination with normal activities, which should include two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise each week.”