Exercise is well known as a key factor when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing.
For this reason the NHS recommends we partake in 150 minutes of exercise a week to stay healthy.
However, research by the University of Cambridge has found that just 11 minutes a day – or 75 minutes a week – of moderate-intensity exercise could lower the risk of an early death.
Scientists say one in ten premature deaths could actually be prevented by following this routine.
In the study, moderate-intensity exercise was classified as any physical activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster – but you would still be able to speak during the activity.
This could include activities such as brisk walking, dancing, cycling, hiking and even certain household chores like mowing the lawn.
As part of the research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the team analysed 196 existing peer-reviewed articles that covered 94 large study cohorts involving more than 30 million participants.
They looked at the association between the participants’ physical activity levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and early death.
Outside of work-related physical activity, two out of three participants reported activity levels below 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity and fewer than one in ten managed more than 300 minutes per week.
It was found that overall, beyond 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, the additional benefits in terms of reduced risk of disease or early death were slight.
But half this amount came with significant benefits: 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity resulted in a 23 percent lower risk of early death.
Study author Dr Soren Brage explained: “If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news.
“Doing some physical activity is better than doing none.
“This is also a good starting position – if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount.”
It was also shown that 75 minutes of moderate activity a week could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17 percent and cancer by seven percent.
In the case of some specific cancers, the reduction in risk was greater, with head and neck, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma, and gastric cardia cancers shown to have up to a 26 percent lower risk.
For other cancers, such as lung, liver, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer, a three to 11 percent lower risk was observed.
It was calculated that if everyone in the studies had done the equivalent of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, around one in six (16 percent) early deaths would be prevented.
One in nine (11 percent) cases of cardiovascular disease and one in 20 (five percent) cases of cancer would be prevented.
But they found if everyone managed at least 75 min per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, around one in ten (10 percent) early deaths would be prevented.
One in twenty (five percent) cases of cardiovascular disease and nearly one in thirty (three percent) cases of cancer would be prevented.
Professor James Woodcock from university said: “We know that physical activity, such as walking or cycling, is good for you, especially if you feel it raises your heart rate.
“But what we’ve found is there are substantial benefits to heart health and reducing your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes every day.”
And Dr Leandro Garcia added: “Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve what we normally think of as exercise, such as sports or running.
“Sometimes, replacing some habits is all that is needed. For example, try to walk or cycle to your work or study place instead of using a car, or engage in active play with your kids or grandkids.
“Doing activities that you enjoy and that are easy to include in your weekly routine is an excellent way to become more active.”