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Daily Short Bursts of Exercise Can Slash Premature Death Risk in Half


Research at Duke University School of Medicine found that at least twenty minutes of exercise per day could reduce the risk of premature death. It showed physical activity doesn’t need to be done in a sustained 20-minute session; short bursts of exercise throughout the day are just as beneficial, if they are repeated enough to total 20 minutes within a 24-hour period.

The study also suggested that exercising considerably more can pay off hugely. An hour per day cut the risk of premature death in half, and 100 minutes per day slashed the risk by three-fourths.

“For about 30 years, guidelines have suggested that moderate-to-vigorous activity could provide health benefits, but only if you sustained the activity for 10 minutes or more,” said study author and distinguished professor of medicine William E. Kraus, M.D. “That flies in the face of public health recommendations, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking farther from your destination. Those don’t take 10 minutes, so why were they recommended?”

The researchers discovered that brief episodes of at least five minutes of physical activity count for exercise, as long as the intensity of exertion is moderate to vigorous. According to Kraus, the results are welcome news for most Americans, as they often get their workouts in short spurts. Many people find it more convenient to accumulate the required physical activity in this way rather than to devote a half-hour block of time to it.

The More the Exercise, the Greater the Benefit

In the study, scientists from the National Cancer Institute examined data from 4,840 people over the age of 40 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. Participants wore accelerators to measure their physical activity. By 2011, a database showed 700 of the individuals had died.

The results showed that those who exercised less than 20 minutes per day had the highest risk of death. Moreover, those whose daily physical activity totaled an hour per day cut their premature death risk by 57 percent, while those whose daily exercise totaled 100 minutes per day slashed their risk by 75 percent. The more you exercise, the more you benefit, said Kraus.

Although an array of other factors play a role in risk of premature death, the study added to the body of evidence showing the value of exercise. Other studies have found it helps prevent and control maladies that can threaten life such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. In fact, it has been said that sitting is the new smoking because it poses such a serious health hazard.

Guidelines released in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advocate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, said Kraus.

Moderate exercise can involve a broad range of activities. Examples provided by the American Heart Association include walking at a brisk pace, bicycling, tennis, ballroom dancing, water aerobics and gardening.

Squeeze Exercise into Your Daily Routine

If you find it hard to devote a block of time to regular exercise, try to find ways to squeeze it into your daily routine in small sessions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Don’t drive when you can walk.
  • Instead of taking a coffee break at work, take a walking break.
  • Do your own yardwork and housecleaning instead of hiring someone to do it.
  • Park a long distance away from your destination.
  • Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator.

If you choose to exercise through spurts, try to keep a running tally in your mind as you go through the day to ensure you get the recommended quota that is so essential for health. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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