11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting

The sweet spot for physical activity and longevity seemed to arrive at about 35 minutes a day of brisk walking or other moderate activities. Finding time in your busy day to exercise is a challenge. But new research suggests that you may only need 11 minutes of exercise each day to live longer, according to a study published in the British Journal of Medicine.

Research has long shown that exercise can improve your life expectancy, because it lowers your risk of developing age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, sedentary activity, which is any low-energy activity that involves sitting, reclining or lying, is linked with disease and early death.

This new study found that people who sat for about eight to 10 hours daily, but managed to clock about 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day, were less likely to die than those who only got about two minutes of exercise a day.

To put this in perspective, the physical activity guidelines for Americans suggest that adults should get 150-300 minutes a week (or 20-45 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity activity, or 75-150 minutes a week (or 10 to 20 minutes a day) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Or, an equivalent combination of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

For example, taking a brisk walk, playing doubles tennis and raking the yard are considered moderate-intensity activities. Jogging, running, taking a strenuous fitness class, hiking and even carrying heavy groceries upstairs count as vigorous exercise.

It’s not clear exactly how much physical activity people need to counteract the effects of sitting all day, but this new research shows that a little bit of movement each day is better than none — and could have an effect on your lifespan.

If your daily routine involves a lot of sitting, consider setting a timer to remind yourself to get up and move every few hours.

For the study, the researchers looked at data from wearable activity trackers worn by 44,370 middle-aged men and women in the U.S., Norway and Sweden. The participants were followed for 4 to 14.5 years, and in that time, 3,451 participants died.

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