London — Taking an 11-minute brisk walk every day, or walking 75 minutes per week, will lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and a number of cancers, a new study from Cambridge University says. Researchers looked at 196 peer-reviewed articles, which included more than 30 million study participants, to analyze the link between physical activity and cancer, heart disease and early death for the study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
They found that 75 minutes of moderate activity a week lowered the risk of early death overall by 23%.
“We know that physical activity, such as walking or cycling, is good for you, especially if you feel it raises your heart rate. But what we’ve found is there are substantial benefits to heart health and reducing your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes every day,” said Professor James Woodcock, from Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit.
Britain’s National Health Service recommends that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. The study found that this level of exercise could prevent 1 in 6 early deaths, but getting more than that only delivered marginal benefits.
75 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or an 11 minute brisk walk per day, was found to reduce the risk of developing cancer by 7% and heart disease by 17%.
For head and neck cancer, myeloma, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma and gastric cardia cancers, the decrease in risk was between 14% and 26%. For other cancers, like breast or colon cancer, the reduction in risk with moderate exercise was lower, at 3-11%.
“Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of exercise, such as sports or running. Sometimes, replacing some habits is all that is needed. For example, try to walk or cycle to your work or study place instead of using a car, or engage in active play with your kids or grandkids. Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active,” said Dr. Leandro Garcia from Queen’s University, Belfast, one of the study authors.