Can 20 minutes of daily exercise offset the risk of a sedentary lifestyle?
A recent study reveals that just 22 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day can offset the increased mortality risk associated with prolonged sitting. The study, which included over 11,000 participants aged 50 and above, found that individuals who engaged in less than 22 minutes of daily exercise faced a 38% higher risk of premature death when sitting for over 12 hours daily. The more exercise people undertake, the greater the reduction in mortality risk, up to a certain point.
This research challenges the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations of 150–300 minutes of MVPA per week, suggesting that 22 minutes a day can achieve similar benefits. Additionally, the study highlights the flexibility of achieving this goal, as it can be spread throughout the day rather than in a single session.
Being sedentary is associated with cardiometabolic diseases, and sedentary lifestyles can weaken muscles, including the heart, making physical activity even more challenging. Physical activity is not only crucial for older adults but for individuals of all ages, offering a range of benefits, including improved mental health, better sleep, and reduced anxiety and depression.
In summary, this study emphasizes the significant impact that a relatively small amount of daily exercise can have on reducing mortality risk for individuals of all ages, challenging existing guidelines, and promoting the importance of staying active throughout one’s life.
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