Even a few minutes each day of moderate exercise during which “you’re able to talk but unable to sing the words to a song” could help to you live longer, scientists say.
Scientists have shown that any exercise is better than nothing, and those who exercise regularly but fail to meet the recommended target of at least 20 minutes a day still have 22 per cent lower death rates at the time.
Those who managed the recommended target saw a mortality improvement of 28 per cent.
Almost two thirds of people over 60 do not manage the 20-minutes-a-day target, with many not undertaking any regular physical activity at all.
The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was a meta-analysis of more than 800 studies involving more than 120,000 people aged over 60. It specifically looked at moderate exercise that could more easily be built into daily life, especially among the elderly. Moderate exercise includes fast walking, gardening and cycling.
David Hupin, from the Universite Jean Monnet in Saint-Etienne, said he and his colleagues hoped to encourage more people to try to exercise, however little they could manage.
“These findings may help convince currently inactive older adults that a lower dose of moderate exercise than currently recommended has health benefits,” he said. The greatest reduction in risk of death found in his research was in those who went from no activity to some activity.
Research last year found that just a minute of very high-intensity exercise, in the middle of a 10-minute workout session, could have impressive effects on health if done three times a week. In the latest study, much of the benefit was found to be because of a reduced risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.
There was a clear gender split in the results. The effect of doing some exercise versus no exercise in men was a 14 per cent drop in mortality risk, while in women the decrease was 32 per cent.