Just walking around can help you live longer

Published: February 28, 2016
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Researchers said even adding 10 minutes of light activity per day could make a difference. PHOTO: FILE

Researchers said even adding 10 minutes of light activity per day could make a difference. PHOTO: FILE

NEW YORK: Even if you do not sweat it out in the gym every morning, swapping out just a few minutes of sedentary time to take a stroll can help you live longer, suggests new research.

In a study involving over 3,000 people between the ages of 50 and 79, researchers found that the least active people were five times more likely to die during the study period than the most active people, and three times more likely than those in the middle range for activity.

“You do not have to sweat it out to experience the reduced likelihood of mortality,” said lead author of the study, Ezra Fishman, from University of Pennsylvania in the United States. “Activity doesn’t have to be especially rigorous to be beneficial. That’s the public health message,” Fishman noted. The findings were published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

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For the study, the participants wore ultra-sensitive activity trackers, called accelerometers, for seven days, generating data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For these same people, the agency then tracked mortality for the next eight years. “When we compared the results, we discovered that those who sit less and move around more tend to live longer,” Fishman said. “The folks who were walking around, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor tended to live longer than the people who weren’t.”

Though the scientists did not discover any magic threshold for the amount a person needs to move to improve mortality, they did learn that even adding just 10 minutes of light activity per day could make a difference. Replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with light or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity produced even better results. “When it comes to physical activity,” Fishman said, “more is better than less, and anything is better than nothing.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th,  2016.

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