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Even Short Bursts of Exercise May Reduce Risk of Death

Some exercise guidelines state that moderate-to-vigorous exercise is only beneficial if sustained for 10 minutes or more. However, a recent study suggests that all moderate or vigorous activity, including short bursts such as taking the stairs, may help reduce the risk of disease and death.


For their analysis, researchers examined data from 4,840 people 40 and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. All of the participants wore pedometers to track physical activity and exertion. The researchers used a national database to determine that 4,140 of the participants were still alive in 2010.


Examination of the data showed that even short bursts of activity accumulate and result in health benefits. The participants who got less than 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity each day had the highest risk of death. Those who got 60 minutes per day had a 57% reduced risk of death. Those who got at least 100 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity per day had a 76% reduced risk of death.


Even brief trips up and down stairs counted towards accumulated exercise minutes and helped to reduce health risk so long as the intensity reaches a moderate level. Moderate exertion was defined as brisk walking at a pace that makes it hard to carry on a conversation.


Researchers from Duke University Medical Center led the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 22, 2018, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise may help with blood sugar control, body weight reduction, improved heart health, improved respiratory health and reduced risk of dying prematurely.

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