A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at this exact question – how much leisure time exercise at a low intensity makes you healthier, how much is too much and does leisure activity count towards the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 150min of low-moderate exercise, or 75 min of high intensity exercise per week. They looked at over 88000 people, and their results should encourage everyone to get out there and exercise, even in a leisurely capacity.
Firstly, ANY exercise, even 10 min of leisure activity PER WEEK at a low intensity was sufficient to start to see beneficial health effects. Specifically, compared to sedentary people, people 40 years and over, achieving 10-59min per week of activity, including leisure activity, had a reduction in all-cause mortality of 18%. In simple terms, they were 18% less likely to die over the 14 year study period.
The health benefits became better and better as the exercise time increased. People exercising for 60 to 299min per week were 31% less likely to die during the study period.
The health benefits were also better if the exercise intensity was higher. There was no cap – people exercising at very high intensities, and for large time frames per week achieved the most health benefits. This was contrary to previously held beliefs that there could be a level of exercise that was too much, too hard, and this level of exercise would be detrimental. It’s not.
We can all exercise. We can all start somewhere, even 10 min per week and you’ll start to enjoy more health, and decrease your chance of an earlier death.
So – here’s my challenge to you all. Let’s all pledge to increase our exercise or leisure activity amount this week and every week. If you are currently doing none – I want you to aim for 10 min per day. If you are doing 60 minutes per week at the moment – I want you to aim for 150min – that’s just 30 min, 5 days per week. If you are already hitting your target of 150min low/mod or 75min mod/high, then I want you to encourage someone near and dear to you to up their activity level.
Comment below Challenge, and lets do this together. I’m going to check in with you all each week for the next 4 weeks. If you want help, we can help set you up with a monitored program – ask us how.
Zhao M, et al. Br J Sports Med 2019;0:1–8.
“Beneficial associations of low and large doses of leisure-time physical activity with all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: a national cohort study of 88,140 US adults.”
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