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Aug 22, 2011

As Little as 15 Minutes of Moderate Exercise a Day Improves Survival

Some people love to exercise. Some don't. Many might feel discouraged at the thought of starting any kind of exercise program because of the perceived amount of time or energy required. We have all heard, either hundreds or maybe even thousands of times by now, just how important it is to get our bodies moving on a regular basis. For those who don't feel quite ready to devote 30-60 minutes to exercise each day or are still just plain resistant about getting into the marvelous habit, you might feel encouraged by the findings of a new study.

After evaluating over 416,000 people in Taiwan between the years 1996 and 2008, researchers found that physical activity consisting of moderate intensity for at least 15 minutes each day (for most days of the week) was enough to have a positive effect on overall mortality risk. Exercising at these levels reduced all-cause deaths by 14%. Authors of the study, which was published in the Lancet, noted that "The benefits of exercise appear to be significant even without reaching the recommended 150 minutes per week based on results of previous research." As expected, researchers also found that each additional 15 minutes of exercise performed beyond the minimal 15 minute interval corresponded with a further reduction in mortality risk from any cause. These benefits were seen across all age groups, in both males and females, and even in those with risks for cardiovascular disease.

As with all studies, there are some limitations to this particular study that should be pointed out. The conclusions made from the study population may not be equally applicable to other populations. Also, there was a significant reliance on self-reported data from participants, a factor that always leaves room for error. Regardless, the suggestion that some regular exercise is better than none makes good sense. Not everyone has to be an athlete, but those who choose to devote at least 15 minutes of moderate physical activity for most days of the week will likely be rewarded with a longer, happier, and healthier life.

Dr. Shana McQueen