An increase in daily physical activity of 10 minutes could help to save more than 100,000 lives, researchers say. In a study published in the Journ
An increase in daily physical activity of 10 minutes could help to save more than 100,000 lives, researchers say.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA Network), a team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used activity monitor data to estimate the public health impact of small increases in physical activity across the U.S. adult population.
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They estimated that if adults aged 40 to 85 years or older increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by 10 minutes per day, approximately 6.9% of annual deaths could be averted, or 111,174 preventable deaths a year.
Greater benefits were associated with larger increases in activity, with similar benefits observed for men, women, Mexican Americans, non-Hispanic Black Americans and non-Hispanic White Americans.
While previous studies have “depended on less reliable self-reports of physical activity, convenience sampling in cohort selection and relatively large increases in population activity levels,” the authors used activity monitor data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), according to the NIH National Cancer Institute.
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The data includes oversampling of non-Hispanic Black and Mexican Americans.
The organization said the researchers paired a week’s worth of activity monitor data from NHANES participants between 2003-2006 with National Death Index data available through the end of 2015.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate the number of preventable deaths through physical activity using accelerometer-based measurements among U.S. adults while recognizing that increasing activity may not be possible for everyone. However,week of monitoring may not reflect changes in activity over time and the observational study design limits the direct determination of causality,” the authors wrote.
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The National Cancer Institute highlighted that previous studies have shown physical activity improves human health, reducing the risk for several chronic diseases that cause premature death, including some cancers.