The Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute recently set out to determine exactly how much—actually, how little—exercise might make us healthier. Their findings, according to an article on EatingWell.com, suggest a little goes a long way.
According to the study, among adults age 40 to 85, just 10 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day would save 110,000 lives per year, according to a January 2022 report in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. At 20 extra minutes per day, this stat nearly doubles to 209,459 lives, and 30 extra minutes, the researchers believe, could prevent 272,297 deaths per year.
“We have known that regular exercise is essential and has tremendous health benefits,” says Vanita Rahman, M.D., the clinic director of the Barnard Medical Center at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “What is unique about the study is that it shows us just how beneficial exercise is by providing quantitative measures. Regular exercise benefits virtually every organ system in our body. It reduces blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Exercise can also help us sleep better and improve our mood, sense of well-being and quality of life.”
While some “fitness experts” say 30 minutes should be the bare minimum, the truth is you don’t need to train for a 5K or take a Peloton class daily to reap signficant health benefits.
“People become so focused on needing 30 minutes of movement each day that if they can’t dedicate a full 30 for any reason (as opposed to breaking it up throughout the day into 10-minute increments, for example), they’ll end up doing nothing. This study linking movement and longevity is a good reminder that some type of exercise or functional movement throughout your day is still always better than doing nothing,” says Dana Ryan, Ph.D., director of sport performance and education at Herbalife Nutrition.