How much exercise do you really need in order to be fit? Apparently, it's far less than we've been told by government health agencies, who reckon on 20 minutes a day.
Researchers have discovered that people who walk or cycle for just half that amount - 72 minutes a week, or just over 10 minutes every day - improve their overall fitness by 4.2 per cent.
Double the exercise time and your fitness level will improve by 6 per cent, while those who walk or cycle for 27 minutes every day can see an 8 per cent improvement.
The other good news is that everyone - in all the exercise groups - saw a 2cm average reduction in their waist measurement, and that's without changing their diet.
However, none of the group - made up of post-menopausal women who lived mainly sedentary lives - lost weight, and their cardiovascular risk factors didn't reduce, either.
So some level of fitness is attainable for pretty much all of us, just as long as we're prepared to walk 10 minutes every day.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007; 297: 2081-91).
E-news broadcast 31 May 2007 No.364