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Walking even once a week reduces chance of early death, study finds

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 19/03/2019 Henry Bodkin
a person standing on a sidewalk near a fence: The study looked at more than 88,000 people between 40 and 85 © Getty Images The study looked at more than 88,000 people between 40 and 85

A brisk walk even once a week is enough to significantly reduce the chances of early death, a new study has found.

Analysis showed that weekly gentle exercise, such as walking or gardening, could cut the risk by nearly 20 per cent.

But being active for longer or participating in vigorous sports has additional health benefits, researchers said.

Group of women in their 30s walking together in the outdoors. Cute blond and fit women in their mid 30s who are active and working to stay healthy. Full length photo with copy space © Getty Group of women in their 30s walking together in the outdoors. Cute blond and fit women in their mid 30s who are active and working to stay healthy. Full length photo with copy space The new study, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows that even low-level physical activities are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer or any cause.

Meanwhile higher amounts of activity or more vigorous activities - such as running, cycling and competitive sports - are associated with additional health benefits that are not outweighed by the risks of participating in these activities, according to the findings.

Every year, a representative sample of the US population is asked about their health and lifestyle for the National Health Interview Surveys.

Gallery: 30 Tips When You're Walking for Weight Loss (Eat This, Not That!)

The researchers used figures collected through the surveys between 1997 and 2008 to estimate the activity levels of 88,140 people aged 40 to 85, and linked that data with registered deaths up until the end of 2011.

Compared with people who were inactive, those who participated in just 10 to 59 minutes per week of moderate physical activities during their leisure time had an 18 per cent lower risk of death from any cause over the study period - and the health benefits continued to mount as activity levels went up.

US guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity done in at least 10 minute bouts, and people who participated in 150 to 299 minutes per week reduced their overall risk of death by 31 per cent.

Senior couple hiking outdoors together on a coastal path near the sea © Getty Senior couple hiking outdoors together on a coastal path near the sea Research author Dr Bo Xi, of Shandong University in China, said: "The study also showed that individuals who participated in vigorous physical activities had significantly lower risk of death than those who only did light or moderate physical activity.

"People short of time should consider more vigorous activities."

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