Exercise: A little is good, more is better

I’ve long told you about the benefits of regular exercise. Just a 20-minute walk a day is enough to impact your health in a very positive way.

And a recent study shows that even less than that can have a positive impact.

In the study, a group of researchers looked at 661,000 adults, most middle-aged. They were divided into groups based on exercise level: from none, to 25 hours per week (10 times the 2 ½-hour-per-week current recommendation). Then they looked at 14 years’ worth of death records for the participants.

Here’s the encouraging finding: Those who exercised less than the 2 ½-hour-a-week recommendation – but more than nothing – decreased their death risk by 20 percent.

But it still makes sense to follow the 2 ½-hour-a-week recommendation, because those who did so lowered their death risk by 31 percent compared to those who never exercised.

And those who worked out moderately (mostly walking) for 6 ½ hours a week were 39 percent less likely to die than those who never exercised. At this point, though, the benefits plateaued.

So my recommendation is still to exercise 2 ½ hours a week, or 20 minutes a day — even a little more. But, as this study shows: if you can’t quite get to that amount, it’s definitely worth it to do something. Clearly, exercise isn’t an all-or-nothing affair. So if you’re not exercising at all, start with 10 minutes a day, and work up to 15. And it’s all about momentum here – the health benefits of 10-minute walks may just make you feel good enough to get up to that 20… and even beyond.