It might not be quite as hard for physically inactive people to live longer by launching an exercise program as previously thought. In a study published at the Lancet, researchers found that as little as 15 minutes of moderate exercise daily expanded the life expectancy of Taiwanese by three years.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 30 minutes five days a week.
Read the news release: Study Finds 15 Minutes of Moderate Daily Exercise Lengthens Life
"Exercising at very light levels reduced deaths from any cause by 14 percent," said study senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Epidemiology. "These findings can stimulate people to exercise as much as they can and to not be frustrated that they can't reach the 30 minute per day guideline."
Wu, lead author Chi Pang Wen, M.D., of the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, and colleagues also found that a person's risk of death from any cause decreased by 4 percent for every additional 15 minutes of exercise up to 100 minutes a day. Those exercising for 30 minutes daily added about four years to life expectancy.
Those who engaged in low-volume exercise had lower death rates than inactive people regardless of age, gender, health status, tobacco use, alcohol consumption or cardiovascular disease risk.
The study involved 416,175 Taiwanese who participated in a standard medical screening program run by MJ Health Management Institution between 1996 and 2008. Participants were followed for an average of eight years.
The study's findings are likely to hold true for other populations, Wu said, even though workout intensity or time spent exercising might differ a bit to earn a health benefit. This is the first collaboration between Wu, Wen and the MJ Health Group, a leading health screening company with more than 600,000 participants in its health database. They have formed the Asian Health Screening Cohort to conduct major research projects.