You’ve heard your entire life how important it is to eat right and exercise. So what will it take to finally get you off the couch?
Perhaps this will spur you. An increased amount of exercise could mean a decreased risk for five common chronic diseases — breast cancer, bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to a new study in The BMJ.
“Greater attention and investments in interventions to promote physical activity in the general public is required,” researchers write in The BMJ.
The World Health Organization (WHO) already recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity fitness a week for adults ages 18 to 64. Previous studies have shown that regular moderate-intensity physical activity — such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports — has significant benefits for health.
Whether or not that amount of time was the best recommendation was the question researchers were looking to answer. To find out, U.S. and Australian scientists analyzed the results of 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016 that examined the associations between total physical activity and at least one of the five chronic diseases mentioned above.
They found that a higher level of total weekly physical activity was associated with a lower risk of all five conditions.
People can work toward that goal each week, according to researchers, by incorporating different types of physical activity into their daily routine. They can climb stairs for 10 minutes, vacuum for 15 minutes, garden for 20 minutes, run for 20 minutes, and walk or cycle for 25 minutes.
The results suggest that total physical activity needs to be several times higher than the current recommended minimum level to potentially achieve larger reductions in risks of these diseases.
“With population aging, and an increasing number of cardiovascular and diabetes deaths since 1990, greater attention and investments in interventions to promote physical activity in the general public [are] required,” they said in a statement.
Physical inactivity, the WHO states on its website, has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality — and causes an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.