Fifteen minutes of walking a day is ‘lowest effective dose of exercise’

One short and intense period of daily exercise is the best way to beat heart disease, according to an article published in the journal JAMA.

Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands compared the effects of different exercise regimes with rates of heart disease and mortality.

They found that the ‘lowest effective dose’ appeared to be 15 minutes of moderate exercise a day, which was associated with reduced death from multiple causes, according to multiple studies.

For those wishing to exercise at higher intensities, eight minutes a day appears to be the magic number, with considerable reduced mortality observed. Moderate exercise includes walking or cycling and higher intensity includes running or rowing.

More intense exercise is associated with a greater degree of benefit, but lower intensities are of considerable benefit too.

Dr Thijs Eijsvogels, lead author, said that while a small amount of exercise was all that was required for good health, there was no harm in doing more.

‘We agree that any dose of exercise is better than physical inactivity and did not intend to discourage individuals from pursuing more exercise,’ he said.

‘Performance of vigorous exercise is an effective way to reduce the risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

‘However, the dose-response relationship between exercise and cardiovascular health appears to be different for moderate-intensity vs vigorous-intensity activities.’

Instant analysis
Exercise is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, dementia and diabetes; multiple studies have suggested that the degree of exercise and benefit are proportional up to a point, after which excessive exercise in healthy people does not appear to alter mortality risks, though in patients with cardiovascular disease, higher rates of death are seen. The American College of Cardiology and other health bodies have defined the recommended exercise intensity for that high-risk group.

It is best to discuss any health issues with your doctor before embarking on any exercise programme.
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