If you lack the enthusiasm to begin exercising, a new British study points out that 30 minutes of activity five times a day could prevent 3.9 million early deaths a year worldwide.
Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh conducted a large study using data from subjects in 168 countries. These figures showed the proportion of the population that followed the World Health Organization (WHO) health recommendations to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or only 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both.
After combining these data with the estimated risk of early death in the active population, compared to the risk of early death in sedentary people, the researchers were able to estimate the proportion of deaths that could be prevented by physical activity.
Their results, published in the landmark journal The Lancet Global Health, showed that following these recommendations could reduce the number of early deaths by about 15% (14% in women and 16% in men), or 3.9 million deaths per year among the world’s population.
The scientists noted that physical activity levels vary widely in some countries. For example, only 33% of Kuwaitis complied with WHO activity recommendations compared to 64% of British and 94% of Mozambicans. However, they made a point of pointing out that despite these differences, the positive effects of physical activity were fairly consistent across the world.
The researchers pointed out that we are often reminded of the negative consequences of being sedentary, rather than emphasizing the benefits of daily sport.
“We’re used to pointing out the downsides of not exercising, whether it’s a sport, an indoor activity or just a brisk walk at lunchtime, but by focusing on the number of lives saved, we can highlight what we’ve already accomplished,” said one of the study’s signatories, Dr. Tessa Strain, in a news release. It helps us to say ‘look at the benefits that physical activity already provides – let’s do better and increase our exercise levels even more,‘” she added.