Everyone knows they should exercise. It's right up there with 'don't smoke' as one of the basic tenets of good health maintenance. While we know that one cigarette is one too many, how much exercise do we need to take before it makes a positive difference?
The good news, according to a new study from Yale University, is that a little can go a long way, provided we're prepared to do it regularly.
Researchers tested the theory on 173 previously sedentary women who were all overweight or obese and aged between 50 and 75 years. They were split into two groups: one restricted themselves to stretching exercises, while the rest carried out some moderate exercise. Most in the latter group plumped for brisk walking, and this, or some other activity such as cycling or aerobics, was done for an average of 3.5 days, and for 176 minutes, a week.
Within a year, the brisk-exercise group was showing a significant reduction in weight and body fat levels. So, no, you don't have to kill yourself in a gym to get benefits from exercise - just start walking, but quickly and often.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 289: 323-30).