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Walk 11 minutes a day, and you’ll still live longer

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Taking a brisk walk every day for just 11 minutes lowers your risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.

It’s just half the level of recommended daily activity, but it’s enough to help you live a longer, disease-free life, say researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Those 11 minutes of walking lower your chances of an early death by 23 percent, they estimate, after they reviewed 196 studies involving more than 30 million people.  

According to health agencies such as the UK’s National health Service, we’re supposed to do 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, or roughly 21 minutes a day.  Few of us achieve that, but the good news is we may not have to.  “If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week is a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news,” said Soren Brage, one of the researchers.  Health benefits from doing more than 150 minutes of exercise a week also start to get marginal.  

Finding 11 minutes a day for a walk reduces your chances of cardiovascular disease by 17 percent, and cancer by 7 percent, although the risk reduced by up to 26 percent for head and neck, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma and gastric cancers.

If everyone followed the 150 minutes of exercise guidelines, one in six early deaths would be prevented.  But doing half that level would still prevent one in 10 (10 percent) deaths.

Moderate-intensity exercise includes brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis and hiking.

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British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2023; bjsports-2022-105669; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105669
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