Just 10 minutes of exercise a day may lead to a longer life for people over 40, study shows

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  • Thousands of deaths can be prevented each year if adults collectively increase their physical activity, a new study reveals.
  • The authors note that exercising for just a short time can make a big difference to adults over 40.
  • Increasing the duration of activity could avert an even greater number of deaths, they added.

The health benefits of a daily stroll have long been known. Past studies have shown that people who keep moving are less likely to have heart health problems, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. 

According to a new study, if adults over 40 incorporated just 10 minutes of exercise into their daily routines, they could, collectively, prevent 110 000 deaths in the US each year. 

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2022. Elaborating on their findings, the researchers wrote: “Adding 10 minutes per day of physical activity resulted in an estimated 111 174 preventable deaths per year, with greater benefits associated with the addition of more physical activity.”

About the study

The analysis included 4 840 participants, of whom 53% were women. 

To reach their findings, the researchers used physical activity data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This information was recorded between 2003 and 2006. They also looked at activity levels of close to 5 000 adults aged 40 to 85 years and assessed death rates in this group until 2015. This way, they could determine how many deaths could be prevented each year if more adults were physically active.

If 20 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity were added to adults’ normal routines each day, close to 210 000 deaths could be prevented each year. This rose to around 272 000 preventable deaths for 30 minutes of exercise.

"We know exercise is good for us. This study provides additional evidence of the benefits at the population level: if all adults in the United States (over age 40) were to exercise just a bit more each day, a large number of deaths could be prevented each year," first author Dr Pedro Saint-Maurice an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, told CNN in an email.

Fitting in 10 minutes of exercise

If the findings of the study have you feeling inspired but you don’t know how to get started, we have some tips for you.

If you’re browsing YouTube in the hope of finding a fitness channel to suit your lifestyle, one expert, in an article in The Conversation, offered five simple tips to help you get there.

There are also three fast morning workouts that you could combine to reach your 10 minutes of activity for the day. Best of all, they can be done from the comfort of your home.

You can also try your hand at skipping – not only is it beneficial for your heart, but it can also strengthen your muscles. This Health24 article offers some handy tips to consider when going the skipping route.

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READ | 7 best workout stories to motivate you for 2022

READ | Rest days are important for fitness – here’s why, according to science

READ | Exercise made easy: 3 stories from experts to get you going

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