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A Small Increase in Physical Activity Could Have Positive Health Effects

Americans have seen a correlation between increased time spent being sedentary and an increase in deaths from heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. A recent study suggests that moving even a little bit more could dramatically reduce the risk of dying prematurely.

Participants in the study included approximately 3,000 people between the ages of 50 and 79 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers supplied them with accelerometers (hyper sensitive activity trackers that record every minute) for seven days. They then tracked mortality for the following eight years.

After adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, body mass index, and the presence of comorbid conditions, the researchers found that the people who had the lowest total activity levels were five times more likely to die during the follow up period than those who had the highest activity levels. Those with the lowest activity levels were also three times as likely to die as those who fell in the middle range of activity.

The researchers pointed out that the technology they used made it possible to determine difference in activity levels down to a very minute difference. This allowed them to determine that just 10 minutes more per day of light physical activity could affect mortality. Finally, they concluded that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time per day with light or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity could make an even great difference.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 5, 2016, in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

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