The simplest thing you can do to save your own life — starting right now

I’ve been telling you for years how important it is to get some exercise. Even a little bit can go a long way in protecting you from a long list of health hazards. And now, two recent studies provide even more proof of how critical it is to get moving.

The first study, conducted at the University of Cambridge in the UK, found that being sedentary may be twice as deadly as being obese.

Researchers gathered data from 334,000 men and women. They looked at self-reported physical activity levels, as well as stats like height, weight, and waist circumference and tracked these factors over an average of 12 years of follow-up.

After researchers analyzed the data, they found physical activity was key to lowering the chances of premature death. Even more so than weight loss. In fact, according to the researchers, “Eradicating physical inactivity in the population would reduce the number of deaths twice as much as if obesity was eradicated.”

The other new study highlighting the importance of physical activity looked at the topic from a slightly different angle. It noted that getting up and moving throughout the day is just as important as regular workout sessions — and maybe more so.

In fact, researchers in this analysis noted that regular exercise sessions don’t negate the serious risks associated with sitting too much each day.

The researchers looked at data from 47 previous studies and found that prolonged daily sitting was linked to significantly higher odds of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dying. This effect occurred even in study participants who exercised regularly. (Although it’s important to note that the sedentary people faced even higher health risks.)

The researchers in this review noted that the biggest health hazard of prolonged sitting was a 90 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And I’ve talked before about how deadly “sitting disease” is (refer back to the article “The silent epidemic stealing your youth” in the February 2014 issue for more on this all-too-common syndrome).

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to shake it.

Reversing sitting disease is this easy: After an hour of sitting, get up, stretch your legs, and walk around. Once again, even just a few minutes makes a big difference.

In fact, a new study shows getting just HALF of the recommended amount of exercise can significantly reduce your risk of death from any cause.

For the record, the current official guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. That averages out to just a little over 20 minutes a day. Hardly a huge time commitment.

But in this study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that, compared to completely inactive people, those who got 75 minutes of exercise per week had a 22 percent lower mortality risk.

That’s just over 10 minutes a day. I don’t know anyone who can’t find 10 minutes in their day to take a brisk walk.

If you can do more, great! But if you’ve shied away from exercise until now because you’ve been daunted by the guidelines, hopefully this study will encourage you to get started. Just 10 minutes a day is all it takes to reap some impressive benefits.


Activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC).” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 101(3):613-621

“Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 2015; 162(2):123-132