The researchers explained that slight increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) can help lessen risks of preventable deaths.
senior woman walking outdoors
Credit: Courtney Hale / Getty Images

There are some everyday activities that often go unnoticed, but they could actually benefit your health along the way. According to a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the brisk daily walk you likely take headed from point A to point B—whether it be to work, running errands, and more—is a great way to extend your lifespan. The study of over 5,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 85 uncovered that 10, 20, or 30 minutes of exercise each day cut risks of death by seven, 13, and 17 percent.

"The potential public health benefit of changing daily physical activity by a manageable amount is not yet known. In this study, we used accelerometer measurements to examine the association of physical activity and mortality in a population-based sample of U.S. adults," the authors write in their paper. "These findings support implementing evidence-based strategies to improve physical activity for adults and potentially reduce deaths."

Based on their findings, the team found that there would be 111,174 less preventable deaths each year when people engaged in 10 minutes of physical activity each day. When exercising for 20 and 30 minutes, there would be 209,459 and 367,037 less preventable deaths. The researchers came to these results after tracking study participants over the course of 10 years, and 1,165 deaths occurred during this time span. They used PAF (population attributable fraction (PAF) to calculate the amount of annual deaths that could be prevented with slight increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

"Previous studies suggest a substantial number of deaths could be prevented annually by increasing population levels of physical activity," the researchers said. "However, previous estimates have relied on convenience samples, used self-reported physical activity data and assumed relatively large increases inactivity levels—for example, more than 30 minutes per day."

Overall, the scientists recommend 150 minutes of activity or 75 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity every week for optimal health. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate the number of preventable deaths through physical activity using accelerometer-based measurements among U.S. adults while recognizing that increasing activity may not be possible for everyone," the authors said.


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