The World Health Organization recommends weekly physical exercises that should count for 600 metabolic-equivalent minutes. The activities should be made across different life domains, so it is somewhat unclear how much, when and what type of movements should be taken into account.
A new study published in The British Medical Journal demonstrates that high levels of physical activity are associated with a decrease in the risk of five chronic illnesses, which are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast and bowel cancer.
The daily exercises should include gardening or housework, and active transportation – for example, cycling and walking.
More Physical Exercise
The Australia and US team of researchers analyzed 174 studies that focused on the total activity level and one of the five chronic diseases. They discovered that the level of physical activity reduced the risk for the illnesses. However, they also managed to set an exact number on the intensity and duration of these efforts.
Most health benefits appeared at a level of 3,000-4,000 metabolic-equivalent minutes each week.
The 3,000 units can be achieved by a combination of different daily activities, which can be included in a routine. For example, one week could contain 15 minutes of vacuuming, 20 minutes of gardening, 10 minutes of climbing stairs, 25 minutes of walking, and 20 minutes of running.
The results show that the World Health Organization should revise their standards for physical exercise, as 600 metabolic-equivalent minutes may not be enough to get a person in a clear zone of chronic diseases. Moreover, higher levels of activity would bring superior benefits.
New Health Policies
Although the study only presents a correlation between the data and not an actual cause and effect relation, the findings are important because they have several implications on the public health strategy.
For example, the fact that the population is aging combines with the greater risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Promoting more physical exercise to the general public will improve the quality of life, and it will reduce the costs of healthcare.
As the French researchers from the International Prevention Research Institute for Lyon mentioned, the study covers an important aspect of our lifestyle that can prove to be of paramount importance in preventing chronic diseases.
Further research should focus on whether there are any differences between an extended duration of physical activity of mild intensity and a short, intense physical exercise when it comes to health benefits.
Health experts wait for new studies which would help them construct better standards and recommendation that will contribute to improving the general state of health.
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