Here is the perfect 11-minute rule for a long-lasting healthy life
Cambridge University researchers propose that people can reduce their risk of early death from heart disease, cancer, and various other health problems — just by doing 11 minutes of brisk walking or any other moderate-intensity physical activity daily.
This is half the effort that National Health Service (NHS) recommended in the past to lead a long and healthy life. According to NHS, a person between 19 to 64 years of age should spend at least 150 minutes a week (about 21 hours a day) doing moderate-intensity exercise.
However, the current study suggests that even 75 minutes of the same level of physical activity every week is enough to save you from an early death. So who is right, NHS or Cambridge?
The logic behind 11-minute brisk walking
To explore the links between physical activity levels and common causes of early death, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, the researchers went through the findings of 196 peer-reviewed research works. These studies collectively involved over 30 million participants from 94 different age groups.
They noticed that over 60 percent of the participants did moderately-intense physical activity for less than 150 minutes a week, and less than 10 percent of the subjects performed exercise for more than 300 minutes a week.
However, the most interesting finding was that those who exercised or brisk walked 75 minutes on a weekly basis (i.e., 11 minutes every day) with the same level of intensity also received almost the same health benefits as the people who exercised 150 minutes a week. There was only a marginal difference between the risk of early death faced by people in both groups.
“If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position – if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount,” said Dr. Soren Brage, one of the study authors and a scientist at Cambridge University.
How does the 11-minute daily routine benefit you?
According to the researchers, 75 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week could reduce the chances of early death for a person by 23 percent. Such a person is 17 percent less likely to have a heart attack as compared to those who don’t exercise at all.
Moreover, the risk of cancer decreases between three to 26 percent (depending on the type of cancer) in individuals who brisk walk (which is probably the simplest moderate-intensity exercise) daily for 11 minutes. For example, if your body is prone to developing lung cancer, the 75-minute/week rule can reduce its possibility by up to 11 percent and by even 26 percent if it is blood cancer that you might develop.
The study authors suggest that if people commit to brisk walking for 150 minutes a week, about 16 percent of early deaths could be prevented. Even if they commit to 75 minutes a week, we’d still be able to reduce early deaths by 10 percent.
Moderate physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym and start practicing intense workout routines. You can complete your daily 11-minute quota simply by cycling, brisk walking, or playing with your kids in the evening. What’s important according to the researchers, is that you do it, and you do it daily.
The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.