Even Low Amounts of Leisurely Activity Reduce Mortality Risk

When it comes to the amount exercise needed in order to maintain good health, the gold standard has traditionally been known to be at least 150 minutes per week. But new research shows that a little bit is still better than nothing.

The Study

In the paper, Chinese researchers examined data from 11 years of health survey records from 88,140 people between the ages of 40 and 85 years old. They paid close attention to the amount of leisurely, non-vigorous activity – such as walking, gardening, and housework — that the participants reported.

The Conclusion

The study found that those who performed leisurely activity between 10 minutes and 60 minutes per week lowered their risk of all-cause mortality by 18% compared to individuals who were not active at all. As expected, this risk reduction jumped to 31% among those who performed leisurely activity between 150 to 300 minutes per week, and basically kept going up from there. Even when controlling for other variables that affect mortality rate, these associations still held true. So, while these results solidify the reality that more physical activity is better, the study concludes that the “beneficial association between leisure time PA (physical activity) and mortality starts from a low dose.”

How Does This Help You?

This is good news for those who have difficulty meeting the typically-prescribed 150 minutes of activity per week. In comparison, 10 minutes to an hour of light activity is much more easily doable for even the busiest and exercise-averse among us. Here are a few ideas from one of our previous posts about simple ways to add activity to your daily life:

  • Park further away from the building when you go to work or run errands. This will force you to walk a little more each day.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator when possible.
  • Do some light chores. Even just a quick sweep of the home is enough to add at least a few minutes of extra movement.
  • Play with your pets a little more.
  • Get out of your seat during commercials. Instead of skipping those ads, use the few extra minutes to get out of your seat and stretch or to do a quick walk up and down the staircase.
  • Take a walk around the block. Spending a little more time outside doubles as a nice mental refresher.

Do you want to be more physical but feel overwhelmed by the idea of switching to an active lifestyle overnight? If so, rest assured that taking small steps is enough to start seeing the benefits.

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