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Doing any sort of physical exercise will lower your risk of early death, according to BMJ

Doing any sort of physical exercise will lower your risk of early death, according to BMJ

Reducing time spent being sedentary and replacing it with light movement can help to stave off an early death, according to research by researchers in the BMJ.  Middle aged and older people who live sedentary lives are up to two and a half times more likely to die early. This risk remained even if a person's sitting was broken up by standing and walking, typical for an desk bound office worker.

Even a small increase in light activity, such as gentle gardening, or washing dishes can help lessen the risk.  Doing regular physical activity results in a risk of five times less than that of no physical activity. The study says higher levels of any type of physical activity helps and the more intense the activity, the stronger and more beneficial are the effects. 

The study, in the BMJ, analysed existing research in eight studies, with a total of nearly 36,400 adults aged 40+ with an average age of 62, and followed them for an average of five to six years. During this time, 2149 deaths were recorded.  

All the participants wore activity tracking devices and their levels of recorded activity which were categorised as: 

  • Light intensity - slow walking
  • Moderate activity - Brisk walking, mowing the lawn, vacuuming
  • Vigorous activity - Jogging, digging

allowed them to be categorised into four groups. 

Taking into account other influencing factors, such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and socio-economic status,  researchers found that any level of activity was associated with substantially lower risk of early death.   

The largest reduction in risk of death (60-70%) was between the least and most active participants but even moderate activity was beneficial.  Those who managed about six minutes a day had a 36% lower risk of death and those who managed about 38 minutes a day, had a 48% lower risk of death..

Researchers suggest that the public health message might simply be “sit less and move more and more often” so why not do this with activities we enjoy.

The research was led by Professor Ulf Ekelund at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, who specialises in physical activity epidemiology and has undertaken similar studies in the past.

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