It’s no secret that regular exercise is good for human health. It strengthens muscles, boosts immune function and reduces the risk of chronic disease, among other health benefits.
On top of these benefits, researchers from a health insurance firm in the UK found that regular exercise can also lead to a longer life. The team found that exercising for just 13 minutes, or less than a quarter of an hour, every day for 12 months can increase an inactive person’s life expectancy by three years.
Regular exercise can lead to a significant increase in life expectancy
Researchers from Vitality, a UK-based medical insurance firm, examined the exercise data of 140,000 of their customers over a period of 12 months. Prior to and after the observation period, the team assessed each participant’s life expectancy using an overall health check.
It appeared that exercising for a total of 90 minutes each week over a 12-month period increased an inactive person’s life expectancy by three years. The team defined “inactive” as putting in less than 30 minutes of exercise each week or less than four minutes every day.
If spread out throughout the week, 90 minutes corresponds to just 13 minutes of exercise every day. This is the equivalent of a short jog or a bike ride.
Those that exercised for 25 minutes every day, on the other hand, increased their life expectancy by four years.
The team also reported that fit participants enjoyed a 1.7-year increase in their life expectancy by just adding four more minutes of exercise to their daily routine.
Taken together, these findings seemingly debunk the idea that people need to spend hours exercising in order to see results.
These findings also present regular exercise in a much more doable and manageable light. For instance, 30 minutes of exercise might seem like a lot. But it appears more feasible and less intimidating if divided into just four minutes of exercise every day.
Nick Read, a managing director at Vitality, adds that fitting exercise into our lives can be difficult. But, as their findings demonstrate, putting in just a couple of minutes of exercise every day can have a massive impact on a person’s health in the long run.
Lack of exercise affects millions around the globe
Physical inactivity has become a global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 23 percent of adults and 81 percent of adolescents around the globe do not meet the recommendations on physical activity for optimal health.
This places people at risk of health problems that stem from physical inactivity, including obesity, high blood pressure and bone problems in later life. The findings of a recent article published in The Lancet indicate that lack of exercise is tied to global killers like heart disease and colon cancer.
In particular, the researchers behind the report found that lack of exercise might be responsible for about one in 10 cases of heart disease and one in five cases of colon cancer in the United Kingdom. Lack of exercise also caused more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths around the globe recorded in 2008.
Pedro Hallal, an associate professor at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil and a member of the research team, adds that despite its consequences, lack of exercise does not get as much attention as other health issues nor does research on the subject get as much funding.
The WHO suggests that increasing sedentary behavior in millions of people could be the result of a host of factors that are, in turn, the result of modern developments and technological advancements.
For instance, the urban design of cities is often in favor of using cars or public transport instead of bicycles. Other possible factors affecting physical activity include traffic, pollution and a lack of parks or recreational facilities.
But physical inactivity is not a lost cause. As the Vitality study suggests, it’s not too late for people to start exercising. More importantly, people do not need to exercise for hours at a time to notice results and reap both the short- and long-term benefits of exercise for health. (Related: Physical fitness equals brain fitness for older men, according to study.)
Learn more about the health benefits of exercise at Slender.news.