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Make the lifestyle change, feel the benefits

A healthy older men exercising.

I read an interesting article the other day in the British Journal of General Practice about recent research which suggests that even moderate amounts of regular exercise, such as a 20-minute daily walk, can reduce mortality by half.

More than 3,300 physically inactive people took part in the study, which found that those who changed their habits significantly improved their health.

The Spanish scientists behind the study tracked the participants (who were up to 80 years of age) over 12 years to see what differences changes in their lifestyles could make. Those who managed a significant boost in exercise levels, meeting recommendations to carry out 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or a 20-minute brisk walk daily, for example, saw their mortality fall by 45 per cent.

Quite an improvement for a reasonable physical investment!

Plus, it gets better for those who only managed a 10-minute walk. These people saw their mortality fall by 20 per cent, according to the study, which suggests that if everyone had followed international health advice and managed 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, 20 per cent of deaths could have been avoided, said researchers.

To put this into perspective, the positive health impact of the above was at least as much as could be achieved by persuading people to change other unhealthy habits, such as smoking, and tackling problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

This research by scientists from the primary care research unit of Bio-Cruces-Bizkaia Health Research Institute said any increase in activity, no matter how small, translated into a significant reduction in mortality.

"Inactive patients who performed 10 minutes a day of moderate or five minutes of vigorous activity reduced mortality by 20 per cent," the study reports.

To put all this into perspective, current estimates suggest that more than one-quarter of adults live sedentary lives. Scientists from the study claimed that many doctors had doubted that it was worth trying to persuade those with unhealthy lifestyles to overhaul them. They also said that many of those leading inactive lives might be spurred on by the news that even a 10-minute daily walk is enough to make a difference.

According to resea