How to increase longevity and improve health in just 2 minutes a day

ONE STEP AT A TIME: Participants in a recent study were given a wearable device that tracked their physical activity and classified it as either vigorous, moderate intensity or light intensity. Dreamstime

You want to be healthier and live longer, but finding the time to exercise can be difficult for many people. A new study, however, finds you might need just two minutes a day to achieve those goals.

“We found as little as 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week can lower all-cause mortality and cancer risk by 15%, and 20 minutes per week can lower heart disease risk by 40%. With additional health benefits up to approximately 50 to 60 minutes per week,” lead author Dr. Matthew Ahmadi, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sydney, told Medical News Today.

For their study, published recently in the European Heart Journal, the researchers selected and enrolled 71,893 adults from the UK Biobank, “a large-scale biomedical database and research resource, containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants.”

All participants – who were ages 40-69 and had no evidence of cancer or cardiovascular disease – were given a wearable device that tracked their physical activity and classified it as either vigorous, moderate intensity or light intensity.

“This is one of the largest wearables device-based (studies) in the world and the first to assess the health-enhancing benefits of vigorous physical activity,” Ahmadi said.

Although moderate physical activity was described as exercise that raises your heart rate but doesn’t leave you out of breath, vigorous exercise includes “sprints, high intensity interval training, swimming or cycling at fast speeds.” This exertion leaves a person trying to catch their breath while speaking.

According to the study, adults who participated in no vigorous physical activity had 4% risk of dying in five years. Adding about 10 minutes of VPA a week cut that risk in half, and adding 60 minutes a week cut it in half again, to a 1% risk.

“Overall, we found that much lower durations of vigorous physical activity were needed to lower morbidity and mortality risks,” Ahmadi told Medical News Today. “Therefore, any physical activity a person is doing provides an opportunity to do vigorous physical activity, if they can do the activity at a faster pace or higher intensity for just short periods of time.”

This is good news for many people, physical therapist Mike James told Medical News Today.

“For those people who are already doing exercise, that is great and they should keep doing it. But for people who can not make it to a gym, they can also attain the health benefits of vigorous physical activity by doing their daily activities at a faster pace, even if it’s just for short periods of time. For example, gardening or doing household chores at a little higher intensity for short periods, or fast walking interspersed with comfortable walking pace when walking during the day.”

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