Even 11 Minutes of Daily Aerobic Exercise could have a positive impact on your health, study finds

A new study from the University of Cambridge has found that just 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per day can lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease or premature death. The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at data from 196 studies, with more than 30 million adult participants who were followed for an average of 10 years.

The study found that compared with inactive participants, adults who did 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity per week had a 31% lower risk of dying from any cause, a 29% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 15% lower risk of dying from cancer. The same amount of exercise was linked with a 27% lesser risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 12% lower risk of developing cancer.

The study authors didn’t have details on the specific types of physical activity the participants did, but some experts have commented on how physical activity could reduce the risk for chronic diseases and premature death. “There are many effective mechanisms including the improvement and maintenance of body composition, insulin resistance and physical function because of a wide variety of favorable influences of aerobic activity,” told Haruki Momma, an associate professor of medicine and science in sports and exercise at Tohoku University in Japan.

Benefits could also include improvement to immune function, lung and heart health, inflammation levels, hypertension, cholesterol, and body fat, said Eleanor Watts, a postdoctoral fellow in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

The authors’ findings affirm the World Health Organization’s position that doing some physical activity is better than doing none, even if the recommended amounts of exercise are not achieved. One in 10 premature deaths could have been prevented if everyone achieved even half the recommended level of physical activity, the authors noted. Moderate activity doesn’t have to involve sports or running; it can involve walking or cycling to work or engaging in active play with children.

“This is a impressive systematic review of existing research,” said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. “We already knew that there was a heavy correlation between increased physical activity and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. This research establishes it, and furthermore states that a smaller amount than the 150 minutes of recommended exercise a week can help.”