Sydney, Australia – Many people cite lack of time as the reason for their non-existent exercise routine, but a new study from Australia might actually put an end to that excuse. Scientists from the University of Sydney report that two minutes of vigorous physical activity totaling just 15 minutes per week is associated with a lower risk of death.
That’s right, finding as little as two minutes a day for a quick workout can extend your life!
“The results indicate that accumulating vigorous activity for short periods throughout the week can help us live longer,” says study author Dr. Matthew N. Ahmadi of the University of Sydney, Australia, in a press release. “Since lack of time is the most commonly reported barrier to regular physical activity, accumulating small amounts sporadically throughout the day may be an especially attractive option for busy people.”
Additionally, a second segment of research shows that for a given amount of physical activity, increased exercise intensity is associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. “Our study shows that it’s not just the amount of activity, but also the intensity, that is important for cardiovascular health,” adds study co-author Dr. Paddy C. Dempsey of the University of Leicester and University of Cambridge in the UK, and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
Both of these projects featured adults between the ages of 40 and 69. Subjects wore a wrist-based activity tracker for seven consecutive days. This served as an objective way to measure their activity levels, particularly sporadic activity of varying intensities throughout the day.
Linking exercise intensity to lifespan and overall health
The first study included 71,893 adults without cardiovascular disease or cancer. The median age of participants was 62.5 years and just over half (56%) were women. The study authors measured weekly levels of vigorous activity and the frequency of exercise sessions lasting two minutes or less. This was a long-term study; subjects were followed for an average of 6.9 years.
Next, the associations between the volume and frequency of vigorous activity with death (all causes, heart disease, and cancer) and the incidence of heart disease and cancer after excluding events that occurred within the first year were analyzed by researchers. Indeed, as the volume and frequency of vigorous activity increased, the risk of the five adverse effects considered decreased.
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Health benefits have been noted even with small amounts of exercise. For example, subjects who did not exercise vigorously at all had a 4% risk of dying within five years. This risk was reduced by half (2%) with less than 10 minutes of vigorous activity per week. The risk of death fell to one percent with 60 minutes or more.
Compared to two minutes of intense exercise per week, 15 minutes of vigorous exercise was associated with an 18% lower risk of death and a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, 12 minutes was linked to a 17% lower cancer risk.
Generally, the more exercise the better. For example, about 53 minutes of physical activity per week was associated with a 36% lower risk of death from any cause.
What about the frequency of training?
Short bursts (up to two minutes) of vigorous activity four times a day on average were associated with a 27% lower risk of death. However, health benefits were also noted at even lower exercise frequencies; 10 short episodes per week were associated with 16% and 17% lower risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, respectively.
The second study involved 88,412 adult subjects, all of whom were free of heart disease. The average age of the participants was 62 years old and 58% were women. Higher amounts and greater intensity were again linked to lower rates of incident heart disease. Increasing exercise intensity also promoted a greater decline in cardiovascular disease for the same volume of exercise. So, for example, the rate of cardiovascular disease was 14% lower when moderate-to-vigorous activity was 20% instead of 10% of activity – which would be equivalent to turning a leisurely 14-minute walk into brisk activity seven minutes. walking.
“Our results suggest that increasing the total volume of physical activity is not the only way to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Increasing intensity was also particularly large, while increasing both was optimal. This indicates that increasing the intensity of activities you already do is good for heart health. For example, speeding up the pace of your daily walk to the bus stop or completing household chores faster,” Dr. Dempsey concludes.
Both studies are published in the European journal of the heart.
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