Regular exercise plays an essential role in maintaining one’s health. Now, a new research has also said that just 10 minutes of physical activity can help increase longevity of those over 40 years of age. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal, the study which analysed the increase in longevity of US adults, also noted that adding 20 or 30 minutes of physical activity daily led to more benefits.
For the analysis, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, where participants in the age group of six and older were asked to wear an accelerometer (instrument that measures vibration and acceleration) for seven days from 2003 to 2006. Researchers then used data from 4,850 participants that were 40 to 85 years old, and followed up in 2015 to determine their self-reported health status.
The study reported that approximately 1,10,000 deaths per year could be prevented if US adults aged 40 to 85 increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity intensity (MVPA) by a small amount—as little as just 10 minutes per day. In fact, increasing MVPA by 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day was associated with a 6.9 per cent, 13 per cent, and 16.9 per cent decrease in deaths per year, respectively.
Notably, the results spanned across gender and ethnicities.
Why is physical activity essential?
Standing for three hours at work place instead of sitting for eight hours or more mitigates one’s cardiovascular health significantly, said Dr Dilip Gude, consultant physician, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad. “With increasing urbanisation, one is more prone to developing exponential risk of diabetes. Sedentary lifestyle increases visceral fat and obesity which, in turn, precipitate a plethora of complications such as obstructive sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, gout, gallbladder stones, infertility etc,” he explained.
He added that sedentary lifestyle is also linked to thinning in regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation and prevent dementia at later stages. “Sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory. Sedentary behaviour (detrimentally) and physical activity (beneficially) may affect renal function, and replacing sedentary behaviour with moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity may benefit renal health in older adults,” Dr Gude mentioned.
According to WHO, regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and improve mental health, quality of life and well-being, too. It also states that adults aged 18–64 years should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week.
According to Dr Aashish Contractor, director, rehabilitation and sports medicine, Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, “This landmark study reiterates the importance of physical activity for overall health and mortality”. What is hugely encouraging is that just 10 minutes can make a difference. However, this study should not be interpreted as, ‘10 minutes is all you need to do’. While 10 minutes gives you great benefit, doing more will give you further health benefits in all walks of life, including mental health,” he said.
Dr Hemant Madan, Director, Senior Consultant and Regional Clinical Lead North Cardiology and Pediatric Cardiology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram suggested that it is important to differentiate between exercise and activity.
“Exercise is an intentional effort to raise your heart rate, strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility. It’s structured time you set aside for focusing on your physical health. Activity, on the other hand, describes how much you move throughout the course of the day. For example, a sedentary person spends much of the day sitting. An active person does things such as walking, climbing stairs, standing and moving around most of the day — this can be because you have a physically demanding job or are running after your children, or because you make an effort to walk during meetings or use a standing desk. For healthy heart increasing your activity level is essential, too,” Dr Madan said.
According to Dr Contractor, the take-home message should be to start getting in more movement in your daily life. “Once you are able to get in 10 minutes regularly, you should strive to do more, and try and achieve the goal of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week,” he advised.