How to live longer: As little as 15 minutes of daily activity could add on three years

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From strengthening the heart muscle to reducing your risk of disease, which activities could count towards your exercise goal? Is there proof that getting physical could slow the ageing process? Research cited by the charity AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) stated that “15 minutes of [daily] physical activity can boost your life span by three years”. Conducted by Harvard University researchers, they added: “The benefits increase with each minute of activity you add.”

The research team referenced an eight-year study that demonstrated that exercising daily for 15 minutes “reduced all-cause mortality by 14 percent”.

In the same vein, the study revealed that moving your body for as little as 15 minutes daily added three years onto people’s life expectancy.

“Every additional 15 minutes of exercise a day lowered mortality during the study period by an additional four percent,” it noted.

Dr Daniel Forman, a cardiologist and geriatrician at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, highlighted the benefits of moving around.

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“Exercise lowers your vulnerability to heart attacks, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and arrhythmias. Not only do you feel better, but also you function better,” he said.

Daily commitment to move your body is critical in order to reap the health benefits.

“Pick the activity you like doing, because you are more likely to do it,” added Dr Forman.

Activities that count

These list of activities, provided by the NHS, can count towards your 15-minute daily workout:

  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Tai Chi
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Netball
  • Hockey
  • Skipping rope
  • Gymnastics
  • Martial arts
  • Pilates
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Washing the car
  • Walking up stairs
  • Walking up escalators

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Further research from the European Society of Cardiology suggested 15 minutes of activity really can add years onto your life.

Dr David Hupin said: “It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment.”

In his research paper, he found that those who exercised for at least 15 minutes everyday were associated with a 22 percent lower risk of death.

Dr Hupin and his team observed data from 1,011 subjects followed over a period of 12 years, and 122,417 subjects aged 60 with a mean follow-up of 10 years.

During the follow-up period there were 88 deaths in the first cohort group and 18,122 deaths in the other group.

The researchers noted that the risk of death reduced in response to the level of exercise.

“Compared to those who were inactive, older adults with low, medium and high activity levels had a 22 percent, 28 percent and 35 percent lower risk of death, respectively,” said the researchers.

Dr Hupin added: “These studies show that the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit.

“The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit.”

Those who performed “low levels of activity” equated to “a 15-minute brisk walk each day”.

The NHS recommends everybody to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.

“Small increases in physical activity may enable some older adults to incorporate more moderate activity and get closer to the recommended 150 minutes per week,” concluded Dr Hupin.

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