Health boost from brief physical activity

One in ten premature deaths could be avoided if everyone achieved just half the recommended level of physical activity, researchers say today.

Dr Soren Brage of the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues looked at the "dose-response" link between physical activity and overall mortality plus a range of chronic diseases.

They carried out a meta-analysis of 196 studies covering more than 30 million participants.

Analysis suggests that the evidence in support of physical activity is strongest for all-cause mortality and for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Furthermore, they report that, In general, higher activity levels were associated with lower risk of all outcomes.

Writing in the *British Journal of Sports Medicine* they explain that this is the largest analysis to date of the association between physical activity levels and risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death.

They write: "Our findings suggest an appreciably lower risk of mortality, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers from the equivalent of 75 minutes/week or less of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., half the recommended minimum levels).

"Our results include the first dose-response meta-analysis of nine site-specific cancers."

The authors conclude: "Inverse non-linear dose response associations suggest substantial protection against a range of chronic disease outcomes from small increases in non-occupational physical activity in inactive adults."

Co-author Professor James Woodcock 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 ten minutes every day.”

Garcia, L. et al. Non-occupational physical activity and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality outcomes: a dose response meta-analysis of large prospective studies. *British Journal of Sports Medicine* 28 February 2023; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105669


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