One of the best things you can do to achieve those twin goals is free and doesn’t take long, although you will get sweaty (and no, I’m not talking about that!).
It’s exercise. There is overwhelming evidence that increasing physical activity leads to improvements in your health, mood and over-all well-being.
But how much exercise do you need to receive the benefits?
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, plus two additional strength-training sessions.
The UK government also recommends that adults get 150 minutes of activity a week.
A recently-published study, done in Taiwan, involved following more than 400,000 people for an average of 8 years. Based on their self-reports of their weekly exercise, the study participants were placed in one of these five categories: inactive, low, medium, high or very high activity.
Those in the inactive group were couch potatoes who did virtually no exercise. The low activity group exercised an average of 92 minutes a week. Each group above that exercised progressively more each week.
Here comes the good part . . .
Compared to those in the inactive group, those in the low-activity group were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, 10 percent less likely to die of cancer, and had a three-year longer life expectancy, on average.
And there’s even more good news . . .
Each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise (up to 100 minutes a day) reduced the risk of death by an additional 4%, and people who got 30 minutes of activity a day added about four extra years to their life expectancy, when compared with their sedentary peers.
These findings were the same in men and women and in all age groups. They even apply to people with cardiovascular disease risks.
“You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start”
Professor Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University
How vigorously do you have to exercise? Well, you don’t have to throw around heavy weights or run until your tongue hangs out. You can do that if you want, but you will get the health benefits from such moderate exercise as biking, walking briskly or dancing.
There is no upper age limit. This applies to everyone. If you don’t believe me, read this post about a study of weight training by seniors.
If you still don’t “get it,” let me tell you about even more new research.
A study done in Australia on health risks linked to TV viewing suggests that too much time sitting in front of the box can shorten your life expectancy. In fact, the study showed that watching television for 6 hours a day can shorten your life by 5 years!
The scientists who conducted this study do not know why this is the case, and it may simply be because viewers who watch a lot of telly do little or no exercise.
These new studies were summed up by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, who said: “Physical activity offers huge benefits and these studies back what we already know – that doing a little bit of physical activity each day brings health benefits and a sedentary lifestyle carries additional risks.”