Walk your way to health
Exercise is a constant mystery - how much is enough to improve your health and lead a long life?
According to a new study, walking for just over an hour a day is enough to cut your risk of dying prematurely by almost 40 per cent.
Research conducted by the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and other institutions, looked into more than 661,000, mainly middle-aged, adults' exercise habits from six large ongoing health surveys.
The adults were divided into different groups according to their weekly exercise routine, ranging from no exercise to those who worked up a sweat 25 hours a week or more. Then, researchers compared the death records for the group spanning over 14 years and discovered that, predictably, those who didn't exercise were more likely to die earlier than those who did.
However, just a small amount of exercise was enough to lower this risk by 20 per cent, while those who met a guideline of 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise saw the chances cut by 31 per cent over the 14-year period.
A big plus was that even walking can have amazing results. Taking a good, moderate-paced stroll for 450 minutes a week (just over an hour a day) is enough to make you 39 per cent less likely to die prematurely than those people who don't exercise at all.
It means that if you are unable to carry out some more demanding activities such as swimming or physical sports/workouts, this is the ideal choice for you.
While this is all good news, researchers couldn't find additional benefits. Although there were no declines in their findings, they were unable to find big differences between those who did more exercise and those who stuck to the average recommendation.
Meanwhile, a different study looking into 200,000 Aussie adults discovered that those whose weekly workouts were made up of 30 per cent intense activities were nine per cent less likely to suffer premature death. Adults who spent 30 per cent of their workouts in the gym cut their chances by 13 per cent.
Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, explained to New York Times that those who are able to work out should "reach [for] at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity."